Flashing lights, simulated gunfire to mark Navy exercise Saturday on Indian Island

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INDIAN ISLAND — An exercise Saturday is intended to connect U.S. Navy teams with area agencies while simulating an attack on the munitions facility.

The “active shooter” exercise will begin at 8 a.m. at Crane Point on Indian Island and wind up at about 1 p.m.

Navy officials say they don’t expect the exercise to affect the public directly, although people might see flashing lights or hear sirens and simulated gunfire.

The exercise provides an opportunity for Navy personnel to work with area law enforcement, fire and rescue responders, and Jefferson Healthcare hospital employees, said Sheila Murray, Navy spokeswoman, in a news release.

“We appreciate being a part of these simulated scenarios to test our readiness for emergency situations,” Jefferson Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn was quoted as saying in the release.

“The active shooter test will help Jefferson Healthcare staff be better prepared and improve inter-agency communication with our local emergency responders.”

The Navy declined to provide details of the exercise.

East Jefferson Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Ted Krysinski said the exercise “is the Navy’s show.”

His agency is charged with administering triage care and transporting mock patients 11 miles to the Jefferson Healthcare emergency room.

About 25 Navy reservists portraying wounded people are to be transported along the route.

The probable route is state Highway 116 to Irondale Road to state Highway 19 and into Port Townsend, said Bill Beezley, fire department spokesman.

The fire department will supply two ambulances and a casualty bus, Beezley said.

“In a mass casualty situation, the number of patients overwhelms emergency personnel, so we need to be able to make tough decisions,” Krysinski said.

“The faster that happens, the better off we will be.”

The transports will drive at the speed limit and will not use their sirens because speeding and noise could endanger the public, Beezley said.

“If there were an accident involving an ambulance using a siren and it emerged that it was a drill, there would be serious repercussions,” Beezley said.

Opening channels so public safety workers know who to call during a real emergency will be the most valuable result of the exercise, Krysinski said.

“Communication is always the source of the greatest failures in emergency situations,” he said.

“We are all trained differently, so an interagency exercise allows participants to recognize each other’s nuances and respond properly.”

While all agencies have similar training and can work together according to procedure, a lack of communication can lead to a situation where one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing, Krysinski said.

Fire departments provide ongoing in-service training and learn to work together, he said, but changes in personnel make it a good idea to conduct exercises annually.

East Jefferson County public safety agencies regularly conduct school-based active shooter exercises so the locals are familiar with each other.

The last major interagency training with a simulated terrorist act at the Port Townsend Ferry Terminal took place last May.

Cascadia Rising, a simulated earthquake/tsunami exercise, is scheduled for June 7-10.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

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