Vigilant Guard to shake the earth
By SSgt. Peter Dean, 107th AW/PA
/ Published October 22, 2009
Niagara Falls New York -- On Oct. 30 a simulated 5.9 magnitude earthquake will devastate Niagara and Erie counties. This real life exercise is designed to bring together both military and civilian responders primarily from the states and territories in FEMA Regions I and II. Teams from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont and others will work alongside New York State military and civilian agencies to coordinate and facilitate all aspects of the weeklong operation.
These exercises will be held around the clock, both on the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, home of the 107th/914th Airlift Wings and off base throughout the surrounding communities. One such exercise is that of a simulated structural collapse of a hospital, a building and a parking garage. In the Town of Tonawanda, construction crews have been systematically placing a combination of rubble, vehicles and mannequins to create a variety of training scenarios. This realistic site with talking mannequins is designed to provide rescuers the ability to perform both search and rescue, and search and recovery exercises. It will also provide the platform for medical personnel to evaluate and evacuate the casualties.
The traveling public may encounter heightened security at the Buffalo International Airport. Members of the 107th Security Forces Squadron along with members from other National Guard units will join together creating the National Guard Reaction Force (NGRF). Throughout the week of Nov. 1 members of the NGRF will join the ranks of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority securing the airport. While on duty members will patrol and be posted throughout the airport. The NGRF will also set up vehicle search points where the traveling public may be instructed to comply with a vehicle search. The general public may also encounter the NGRF providing convoy security, base security and many other security details throughout the community.
"This is a great opportunity for the New York Air National Guard Security Forces to demonstrate our capabilities and skill sets to the general public," said Chief Master Sgt. Paul Wiencek, 107th Security Forces Chief. "I think the lessons learned from this exercise will go a long way in helping us to prepare for possible events similar to this in the future," he added.
On the Air Base, the 107th Airlift Wing will act as the lead unit, with the 914th and the New York Army National Guard providing logistical support. The 107th anticipates accommodating up to 3,000 military personnel throughout the exercise. The daily influx of visitors will range from 800 to 1,200 per day that will need to be fed and housed.
Many 107th squadrons will play a vital role in both the on base and off base operations. For example, the 107th Force Support Squadron is preparing and serving two hot meals a day for the military participants staying and working on base. The 107th Civil Engineer Squadron is aiding with the construction of a tent city, which will house 300 military responders each night. The remaining military members staying on base will stay in base lodging, two hangars or the former fire station. Off base, the engineers will work alongside other military and civilian counterparts inspecting structures both on land and in the water. The boating public may encounter the New York Naval Militia providing water transportation for the inspection team conducting bridge and embankment inspections. The Naval Militia will also patrol the water ways looking out for distressed boaters, safety issues and providing border security.
The 107th Medical Group will be joined by other medics throughout the country to set up an on-base Expeditionary Medical Support (EMEDS) unit. Casualties will be transported from the incident site via ground transportation or one of the many military helicopters responding to this exercise. Upon arrival at EMEDS, prior to sending them onward for further medical treatment, the medics will stabilize the victim and evaluate the extent of their injury. The medics are required to stay on base 24/7, manning the EMEDS facility until the completion of the exercise.
"As you can see this will be a true test of our ability to support an operation of this size and duration," said Col. Timothy Vaughan, 107th Mission Support Group Commander. "This will also test our ability to integrate and operate with other military forces and civilian agencies responding to man-made or natural disasters," he added.
The general public in the surrounding communities may encounter convoys on their way to or from an exercise. They may encounter a military presence at the Buffalo International Airport. They may see one of the many helicopters that will be responding to and from the scenario to evacuate the casualties. This is only an exercise, in the event of a real emergency you would be instructed to ...............