The Georgia Department of Defense and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency recently co-hosted the Vigilant Guard 17 emergency-response exercise to test emergency first response capabilities during a potential disaster scenario.
The exercise was conducted in response to Hurricane Matthew, which left six Georgia counties in a state of emergency last October.
Included in the exercise were approximately 9,000 military and civilian personnel from more than 50 federal and local agencies. The exercise was sponsored by the U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard Bureau.
“The purpose of this large-scale and comprehensive exercise is to simulate a real-world natural disaster in order to improve cooperation among local, state, and federal stakeholders in preparing for emergencies and any sort of catastrophic event,” Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said.
Simulated missions in the exercise included collapsed building search and rescue, decontamination, search-and-rescue training, maritime response, aerial fighting, mass-casualty and medical evacuation training, cyberattack defense, and other operations.
Participants also learned to coordinate effective disaster response missions and how to engage both national and local agencies to plan, communicate, and take action to protect people in the event of a disaster.
“These exercises help us build capability, and more importantly, it helps us build trust,” Brig. Gen. Tom Carden said. “Trust is cultivated through relationships. When we can go out and work those relationships and build trust and build capability, the end result is a safer population.”