At 9:00 am on Wednesday, February 15th. Two “gunmen” burst through the doors of the Naval Health Clinic at NSA Annapolis on Kincaid Road in Annapolis. And less than 30 minutes later there were more than 30 “casualties” including two fatalities. Fortunately, it was a drill!
This drill was part of a nationwide effort on all Naval installations called Exercise Citadel Shield-Solid Curtain 2023 to test and enhance the readiness of Navy security forces and ensure seamless interoperability among the commands, other services, and agency partners to protect life, equipment and facilities. Due to the nature of the threat, the exercise does require the resources and cooperation of many outside agencies; which today included the Annne Arundel County Police Department, the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, the Annapolis Police Department, the Annapolis Fire Department, the National Park Service, the Maryland State Police, and of course, the first responders at the NSA Fire Department and others on the facility. Luminis Health-AAMC and UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center were involved on the medical end, and the drill continued at their facility later in the morning.
Several dozen “victims” were strewn around the facility with injuries ranging from bumps ad scrapes to gaping gunshot wounds as first responders entered the facility. Despite pleas for help, the focus was on locating the shooters and securing the scene so any victims could be treated as needed.
After the first responders from the base entered the building, they were followed by droves of police and tactical teams from the surronding community working to secure the building and ultimately evacuate the victims inside. Outside the clinic, a triage tent was set up, and several mass casualty buses were waiting for victims.
“These drills are so important as they strengthen our existing relationships with response agencies and ensure we are all well-equipped and prepared to provide safe, high-quality care during a real emergency,” said Diane Croghan, Vice President of Community Outreach and Chief of Staff at UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center.
The first shooter, a female, was ultimately located in the building and arrested. The 2nd shooter, a male, was shot (and presumably killed) at the top of the stairs.
CAPT. Homer Denius, the Commanding Officer of NSA Annapolis oversaw the exercise and explained how critical the local community and connections were to handle such an emergency should it come up.
Absent from the drill was a rush of victims leaving the building as they were able when the shooting began. CAPT. Denius explained that all staff on the base are trained to stand in place should this occur, followed by the recommended actions of run, hide, and then fight.
The incident needs a good deal of coordination off-site which was handled remotely via a zoom conference, but as the severity of the incident became known, the Annapolis City Emergency Operations Center would become the strategic communications hub.
First responders in orange vests observed all aspects of the drill during the exercise. Once complete, their notes and observations will be assembled to evaluate what went right and what went wrong. It will be shared with other facilities across the nation to assemble the best response to an incident.