By Spc. Joshua Barnett, 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana National Guard participated in a statewide disaster response exercise (DRX) designed to test the capabilities of various local, state and federal agencies, April 18, 2015.
The exercise, organized by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, involved training missions that took place simultaneously at Acadiana Regional Airport in New Iberia, Camp Villere in Slidell, Naval Air Station – Joint Reserve Base New Orleans in Belle Chasse, and a warehouse facility in Roseland.
“The Louisiana National Guard takes our responsibility to remain prepared for any disaster very seriously,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, the adjutant general of the LANG.
“GOHSEP’s Disaster Response Exercise allows us to maintain a high-level of training and preparedness, as well as partner with our local, state and federal agencies to make sure that together, we all respond to disasters in the most efficient and effective way possible. Our Soldiers and Airmen are the best at what they do, and it shows during exercises such as this.”
The DRX involved more than 1,200 Soldiers and Airmen from the Louisiana National Guard and nearly 400 civilian officials and first-responders from more than 25 agencies.
At Acadiana Regional Airport, Soldiers rehearsed search and rescue operations via multiple means. The 2225th Multi-Role Bridge Company conducted water rescue operations, 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment conducted ground search and rescue and F Co., 2-135 MEDEVAC conducted aerial rescue training.
Rescued role-players were then taken to a “Lily Pad,” which provides essential capabilities of medical support, security, pet processing and transportation to safely evacuate individuals further out of flooded or devastated areas.
“This is a really hands-on training for us,” said Spc. Leah Allen, a driver with the 199th Brigade Support Battalion, 256th Infantry Brigade. “We’ll know what to expect if the time ever comes to use this. We want to get as much experience as we can.”
At Camp Villere and in Roseland, the exercise focused on the logistics of distributing commodities, such as water and packaged meals, to points of distribution throughout the state.
“It’s important to make sure that we have appropriate supplies and appropriate commodities, for example MREs and ice, to hand out to the citizens of Louisiana at points of distribution, or PODS,” said Capt. Noel Collins, support operations officer for the 165th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.
The DRX is an annual exercise, but this year’s had a new component. It was tied into a multi-state military exercise called Ultimate Caduceus 2015.
Ultimate Caduceus is a federal exercise involving Air Mobility Command and U.S. Transportation Command that focuses on the processing and transfer of patients from a disaster site to medical care.
“Ultimate Caduceus 2015 is essential to ensure the safe evacuation of patients to hospitals outside of the strike zone of hurricanes prior to landfall and to track those patients end to end to ensure their safe return to Louisiana once the danger is gone,” said Lt. Col. Ray Schindler, deputy commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s 159th Mission Support Group.
An additional 140 Active Duty and Air National Guard personnel, representing nine states, participated in the aeromedical evacuation exercise.
“We’re partnering with the Air Guard, the Army Guard and our state partners to demonstrate our ability to evacuate Southeast Louisiana in the event of a hurricane,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Tami Rougeau, the Air Mobility Command exercise coordinator.