Alaska Guard, Agencies Test Emergency Response Capabilities
By Army Sgt. Edward Eagerton
Alaska National Guard
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska, March 31, 2014 More than 1,100 Air and Army National Guard members from Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Arizona, California, Nevada, Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah are taking part in exercise Alaska Shield 2014 across the state.
A U.S. Army tugboat is unloaded from the USNS Mendonca, a large cargo ship, during the exercise Alaska Shield 2014 in Anchorage, Alaska, March 27 2014. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ryan A. Swanson
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The exercise, which began March 27, involves national, state and local agencies and is designed to test the response and coordination of different agencies in a disaster scenario modeled after the 1964 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that ravaged Alaska.
“With Alaska Shield 2014, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1964 earthquake by replicating its significant damage and corresponding tsunami in order to educate and prepare participants for potential catastrophic events,” said Army Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Katkus, the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard and commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
The exercise consists of scenario-based events at multiple locations from Anchorage to the Mat-Su Borough, Cordova, Valdez and Fairbanks. The scenarios include hazardous material detection and response, search and rescue, triage, casualty evacuation, communication support and transportation support.
“Alaska Shield 2014 is a highly complex training exercise that integrates federal, state and local emergency participants in a combined response,” Katkus said.
Other agencies participating in the event include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Army, Air Force, North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Transportation Command, the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and many other organizations.
“There is no question that Alaska is an ideal venue for this exercise, which will test our collective ability to share information among federal, state, local, tribal and other community organizations and respond accordingly,” Katkus said.