By Spc. Duncan Foote, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
NEW ORLEANS – As the Louisiana National Guard assisted the State in fighting wildfires, more than 40 Guard men and women from other states stepped up to help LANG protect what matters.
The support of the additional service members is the direct result of making an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request for additional assistance, equipment and resources from other states.
Approved by Congress in 1996, EMAC is a mutual aid agreement that allows state-to-state assistance during declared states of emergency. This agreement allows other states to provide resources such as National Guard troops and equipment to the requesting state.
The Louisiana National Guard began wildfire relief efforts on Aug. 23 to combat multiple wildfires in western Louisiana.
The LANG’s effort began with using aviation assets to drop buckets of water on wildfires, succeeding in putting them out or containing them to a specific area to prevent them from spreading.
“During a time typically dominated by hurricanes, the Louisiana National Guard was able to drop more than 1.2 million gallons of water in their aerial fight against the wildfires that spread so rapidly,” said Col. John Plunkett, commander of State Aviation Command.
Over the course of the last couple of weeks, aviation crews have dropped 2,241 loads of water using bambi buckets on wildfires, flown for a total of 474.6 hours and used more than 62,000 gallons of fuel.
“The LANG’s ability to deliver water suppression when and where it was needed would not have been possible without the aviation assistance provided by the assisting states,” said Plunkett. “The support provided by these five states was instrumental to our success, and on behalf of the citizens of Louisiana, we would like to thank you for your sacrifice and support during this challenging time.”
Through the EMAC, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and New Jersey provided CH-47 Chinooks and UH-60 Black Hawks and crews to aid the state of Louisiana in dropping water to combat the ongoing wildfires.
“We are fortunate to have so many selfless professionals eager to respond to a rare type of emergency in Louisiana,” said Lt. Col. Walt Deville, the facility commander of Army Aviation Support Facility #2 in Pineville, Louisiana. “With the limited number of assets we have, it is important to depend on neighboring states to help augment our resources.”