June 19, 2019 – Blasts, sirens blazing, helicopters circling above head, mock triage centers, simulated oil spills, and over 20 emergency and law enforcement agencies descended on the Port of Hueneme today for the state’s largest security and emergency response exercise – Coastal Trident.
“The Port’s Coastal Trident exercise is aimed to sharpen the collaborative response of our emergency and security teams to potential real-world disasters. Partnering with our local, state, and federal partners in these exercises allows us to share best practices, test lines of communication, and increase our overall preparedness,” said Oxnard Harbor District President Jess Herrera.
Footage of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Dive Team looking for explosives during the Coastal Trident exercise taken by drone from the Port’s Incident Command Center
Coastal Trident encompasses a variety of exercises taking place throughout the region over a several week-long period and include over 150 local, state, and federal agencies. Today’s exercise focused on the response efforts and communication plans if an emergency were to occur at the Port of Hueneme.
At 9:30am, a mock explosion rattled the Port’s South Terminal kicking off the simulation. Actors portrayed bleeding and dying victims being rushed to the triage station set up on Wharf 2. Shortly after being notified, the following agencies responded to the scene and established a unified command:
- Port Hueneme Police
- Oxnard Police
- Oxnard Fire
- Oxnard Office of Emergency Services
- Oxnard Harbor District
- Ventura County Fire
- Fillmore Fire
- Ventura County Sheriff’s Department
- Ventura County Office of Emergency Services
- NBVC Dive Team
- Naval Construction Team One
- Ventura County Sheriff’s Bomb Squad
- Ventura County Emergency medical Services Agency
- Ventura County Sheriff’s Air Operations
- Lifeline Ambulance
- Ventura City Fire
- FBI Hazardous Evidence Response Team
- United States Coast Guard
Christina Birdsey, Port of Hueneme Chief Operations Officer, and Brendan Applegate, GT2’s Director of Threat Management, brief partner agencies on the schedule for the exercise
By 9:40am, the Port’s Incident Command Center was established at the 105 Security and Operations building. Members of Port management we joined by representatives from the various agencies involved along with their Public Information Officers at the Incident Command Center. To make it authentic, colored dye was used to show areas of oil and liquid fertilizer spilled during the explosion, draft press releases and social media posts were created, and phone calls from the public were responded to by the Port’s PIO. As the simulation unfolded, 31 mock casualties were reported and treated at the local triage center.
Firefighters tend to a mock victim at the triage center on Port
As reports came in from the dock, it was reported that the explosion was an act of domestic terrorism, complete with flyers depicting threatening messaging. The VC Sheriff’s Bomb Squad and Dive Team recovered two dummy deceased bodies and mock devices including a chemical spreading device, undetonated bomb, and a remote-controlled drone device. At 11:30am, the Port hosted a staged press briefing with the Mayor of Port Hueneme Will Berg and members of the press.
The Ventura County Fire Department’s Hazmat team and Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad identifying mock cyanide at the scene of the simulation
In review of the exercise, CEO & Port Director Kristin Decas stated, “Over the past few years, as our county has endured fires, floods, and mass shootings, we have learned that we can never be overprepared for an emergency situation. And, as we saw today, Coastal Trident is aimed to bring our local, state, and federal agencies together to improve our communication and cooperation with one another and the public.”
In addition to the public agencies involved, members of the innovation and tech community also observed the exercises to assist with developing any new technologies or products that would assist in real-world emergencies at the Port. These companies are a part of the Port’s Maritime Advanced Systems and Technology Lab (MAST) and aim to invent products for the maritime industry.
The scene of the simulated emergency taking place on Wharf 2 of the Port, including mock victims
At the outset of the exercise, the Port’s Chief Operating Officer Christina Birdsey explained, “We are excited to host our 13th annual regional maritime security exercise. The value in having many of our regional stakeholders involved in an exercise like this is that it allows for each of the agencies to not only test our plans, but to continue to learn from each of the participants and further improve our response abilities to security threats. Testing technology and better understanding potential gaps will only prove to grow innovation, improve communications and solidify partnerships.”