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    National Guard Exercise comes to Western New York



    Story by Eric Durr 

    New York National Guard

    BUFFALO, N.Y. - A "tabletop" exercise involving 130 participants, from Canada, the military, and local governments and colleges from around Western New York, held Aug. 12 at the Adams Mark Hotel, was the first installment of a national-level emergency response exercise which will bring almost 1,000 National Guard members from around the northeast to Erie County.

    Organized by the National Guard and the Department of Defense's Northern Command, the Vigilant Guard exercises held across the country provide opportunities for local government emergency managers to test their response plans along with the National Guard of each state.

    Erie County, the City of Buffalo, and the New York State Emergency Management Office are also major players in the exercise.

    In the August 12 exercise, representatives from area local governments played out the first 48 hours following a major earthquake hitting Erie County and Western New York, which causes serious damage and injuries. Under the scenario, local emergency responders will be quickly overwhelmed and local government will seek military support. The purpose of the exercise is to help civilian and military officials in their planning and preparations to speed assistance when and where it is most needed when disaster strikes.

    On September 2 a second table top will bring together key local leaders to consider the kinds of decisions they would have to make in this scenario. A six-day full scale exercise is set for November 1-6 that will be conducted at different locations in Erie County and in New York City and will involve local and military teams conducting search and rescue and medical evacuation operations and more.

    The exercise scenario is built around a simulated earthquake that strikes Western New York, causing serious damage and injuries Vigilant Guard provides a training opportunity for National Guard forces to for state emergency response and exercise relationships with local, state, regional and federal partners against a variety of different homeland security threats, including natural disasters and terrorist attack.

    More than 1,000 National Guard troops from New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and other states will participate along with local, state, county and city emergency response units and agencies. It will provide a realistic training opportunity for civilian and military officials to coordinate in order to protect lives and property.

    The Erie County Emergency Operations Center in Cheektowaga, the New York State Emergency Operations Center, and the National Guard's Joint Operation Center, both in Albany will run concurrent and coordinated command post exercises during Vigilant Guard.

    "The New York National Guard has a well-earned reputation in New York and around the nation for emergency response whenever trouble strikes here at home," said Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Taluto, the Adjutant General of New York. "Vigilant Guard is another opportunity for us to work closely with the civil authorities at the local, county and state level before disaster strikes to help us improve our planning and ability to respond to the next emergency that falls on our communities."

    "As the name implies, we must always be ready by training and preparing in the time we have. In this post 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina and Rita world, we must think about and plan for the potential disasters that we all hope never happen," Taluto said.

    "As we've seen in this community between the October Storm of 2006, the Hepatitis-A scare and the crash of Flight 3407, it's vital for our first responders to be able to work with agencies at multiple levels of government," said Erie County Executive Chris Collins. "Our response to each of these incidents would not have gone as well as it did if not for the extensive training our local first responders receive. This Vigilant Guard exercise will enhance our ability to respond to largescale crisis situations, and will allow our local emergency teams interact with their colleagues at the state and federal level."

    John R. Gibb, director of the New York State Emergency Management Office, said, "Exercises such as Vigilant Guard are an excellent opportunity for local, county and State agencies to test the plans they have to see what works and correct the things that don't so that they can be better prepared for events just over the horizon. Unfortunately, first responders in Erie County, Buffalo and .the State have been tested time and again by both natural and man-made emergencies. Each time, the response has been swift and effective. Vigilant Guard will help us to collectively build our response and recovery capabilities in the region."

    Nationally, there are four Vigilant Guard exercises each year. Two exercises are aligned with national-level exercises such as Vigilant Shield and Ardent Sentry. The other two are regional "stand-alone" events, primarily with regional partners.

    Vigilant Guard will help both the National Guard and civilian leaders practice command and control functions and Defense Support of Civil Authorities with the various government partners through a realistic learning environment to benefit all participants.



    Date Taken: 08.14.2009
    Date Posted: 08.14.2009 16:41
    Story ID: 37513
    Location: BUFFALO, US

    Web Views: 278
    Downloads: 236