News: Working together to prepare for the worst
Story by Sgt. Benjamin John
VALDEZ, Alaska - As part of Alaska Shield 14, volunteers were stranded in frigid water simulating victims of a Tsunami here, March 29, 2014. This was a planned event to test disaster response by the U.S. Coast Guard and Army National Guard.
The collaboration of these two groups during the exercise made the day successful and educational for everyone involved. Alaska Shield 14 is an exercise that involves state, federal, military, and local agencies, designed to test response and coordination efforts during a disaster and is modeled after the 1964 Good Friday earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated much of South Central Alaska including the city of Valdez.
“The drill went very smoothly, very professional, and everything was conducted safely,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Aaron Christoferson, a Boatswain Mate with the U.S. Coast Guard stationed in Valdez, AK.
The U.S. Coast Guard teams, based in Valdez and Kodiak, AK picked up the stranded victims from the frigid waters near Valdez and provided aid to each while in transit to the shore where the National Guard medical teams from Tempe, Ariz. took over. Once on shore the patients were transported to medical facilities – either to standing facilities or an alternate care facility established after the initial earthquake which started the exercise March 27, 2014 to coincide with the anniversary of the 1964 quake.
“I don't think you could find a training event quite like this in the lower 48,” said Maj. Kevin Onan, Commander with the Arizona Army National Guard 996 Area Support Medical Company out of Tempe Ariz.
The Arizona Army National Guard came to Valdez to help with the expected overwhelming need for medical treatment of patients during the Alaska Shield 14 exercise and the U.S. Coast Guard are stationed in Valdez to prepare for events that took place 50 years ago and may happen again in the future. The day's exercise was a success because of the joint efforts of everyone involved.