VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. –
Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen provided an overview of the emergency response planning process and static displays of Guard capabilities for the Hampton Roads Emergency Management Committee meeting Aug. 8, 2017, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The working group meeting provided an opportunity to exchange information regarding responsibilities in emergency management with more than 50 members of the HREMC which includes multiple groups from various organizations including local governments, health departments, private companies and the military. The committee meets monthly at various locations throughout the region and promotes the inter-jurisdictional and inter-agency coordination of emergency management issues and fosters emergency preparedness.
“I was very appreciative that the Virginia National Guard provided HREMC with an overview of the resources that they can bring to the table during an emergency event and how to best request those resources,” said Andrea Clontz, Hampton Roads Emergency Management Committee Chair. “Knowing that the Virginia National Guard can provide more than a ‘high water rescue vehicle’ and, more importantly, what the Virginia National Guard thinks we are requesting when we ask for one is critical to successful resource allocation during an emergency event.”
The committee meeting begun with an overview conducted by Lt. Col. Timothy Pillion, Camp Pendleton Collective Training Center commander, who provided an overview of Camp Pendleton’s 328-acre installation which provides training facilities for National Guard units, as well as all other Department of Defense, active duty and U.S. Army Reserve units as well as public safety organizations. Camp Pendleton serves as a nucleus for local emergency management training and a key location for integrated state and federal response planning and preparation events, Pillion explained.
The meeting also included an overview of Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s, VDEM, Search and Rescue Program. Mark Eggeman, Search and Rescue coordinator, provided an overview of their mission and capabilities, sharing that Virginia averages over 80 search and rescues per year. Eggeman informed the committee members that all Virginia Search and Rescue requests must be channeled through the Virginia State Emergency Operations Center.
Following the Virginia Search and Rescue Program was the Virginia Department of Military Affairs, Capt. Cari Kelso, director of military support for the Virginia National Guard. Kelso provided an overview to the committee on the Emergency Response Planning Process as well as the National Guard Civil Support Playbook. The brief aimed to educate the committee on the unique capabilities and support the Virginia National Guard can provide the commonwealth during a disaster.
“We wanted to host this meeting for two reasons,” said Kelso. “First was to display some of our capabilities that we employ to support the citizens of the Commonwealth. The second reason was to provide our civilian counterparts with some insight into the emergency management planning process that we use to determine what capabilities we will employ. Overall, I think that this was a great success and we hope that we can host events similar to this one in different parts of the Commonwealth.”
Kelso walked the committee through the Virginia National Guard’s plan when notification of a potential threat is identified. Kelso explained that 72 hours prior to an event, the Virginia National Guard convenes a Joint Planning Group soliciting input from local emergency managers and VDEM. Leading up to the actual event, the Virginia National Guard will publish a final operations order after conducting crisis action planning and VDEM coordination. Kelso concluded his brief by showing the committee a map that illustrates all of the Virginia National Guard Readiness Centers and Field Maintenance Shops.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Matt Bailey, plans and operations noncommissioned officer for the Virginia National Guard, provided the committee with the 2017 National Guard Civil Support Playbook. The Playbook consists of National Guard Civil Support capabilities which are specifically resourced and provided by the Virginia National Guard that includes Army, Air, Virginia Defense Force and Joint capabilities. Some of the capabilities include aviation, chemical, command and control, communications and security assets. Most of the playbook capabilities are comprised of traditional National Guard Soldiers who have a muster time of twelve hours from time of notification. An exception to this playbook is the Civil Support Teams, or CST, who are comprised of 22 full time active duty guard personnel who can respond to an event in less than four hours depending on their ready cycle status, Bailey explained.
Members of the Joint Base Langley-Eustis, 192nd Fighter Wing Intelligence Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard provided an overview to the committee regarding the Incident Awareness Assessment capabilities. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin McNamee, intelligence superintendent, provided the committee with the overview of the different communication capabilities that provide real-time assessment and information to the command center.
Members of the Virginia Army National Guard led the committee outside to see and visit static displays of the playbook that included some of their domestic response capabilities and equipment. Airmen from the Virginia Air Guard displayed communications equipment for the committee members to view the equipment and get answers to their questions that will assist with the effectiveness of response in the event of an emergency.
Due to inclement weather, the state’s UH-72 Lakota helicopter detachment, the Chesterfield-based Detachment 1, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment was unable to provide the council with a demonstration. In the event of an emergency, however, the aircraft is equipped with a Mission Equipment Package which includes a forward centerline-mounted camera system with advanced optics and a cabin touchscreen display, a video management system, a digital video recorder and data downlink system. The MEP can provide real-time video to personnel off-site, streaming live to computer and devices via the internet, allowing commanders and senior leaders from both the Virginia National Guard and first responder agencies to monitor the situation on the ground as it develops.