Disaster Preparedness Training
By Pfc. Andreas Alsdorf
GUARDIAN CENTERS, Perry, Ga., March 29, 2017 – It is the aftermath of a Category 3 hurricane, a dreadful scenario. Hurricane Alan made landfall on the Georgia coast and is making its way into Tennessee. In its wake, Hurricane Alan leaves behind disaster, trauma, and suffering. In the path of the storm, all that can be seen are collapsed buildings, crushed cars, and an overturned school bus laying on its roof. In the air, the sound of people crying for help from nearly every direction as they are trapped in manholes, vehicles, and burning homes.
Fortunately, this is only a simulation. As part of Vigilant Guard 2017, a true-to-life simulation has been created at the Guardian Centers in Perry, Georgia. Guardian Centers is an 830 acre disaster preparedness and tactical training center located approximately 100 miles south of Atlanta.
“This is an inter-agency, multi-regional exercise that exercises the Georgia Department of Defense, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, and a host of other state and local agencies, to work as multi-agency partners in response to a natural disaster,” said Col. Wallace Steinbrecher, commander of the 201st Regional Support Group, Georgia Army National Guard.
As the simulated catastrophe unfolds in dramatic fashion, many action-laden scenarios can be witnessed: The Georgia Army National Guard, U.S. Air Force and local first responders team up to evacuate a casualty from a manhole, Valdosta firefighters preparing to enter smoke-filled buildings, facing gas and fire hazards. Swiftly clearing buildings, multiple Search and Rescue Teams rush in, evaluate medical conditions, and immediately evacuate and transport casualties. During the exercise, multiple agencies worked together to provide medical attention to a seemingly endless stream of simulated casualties. “A simulated exercise this scale, different agencies working together as they would during an actual emergency is a priceless opportunity to learn how partners work- and how we all best fit with each other,” says Col. Steinbrecher, explicitly mentioning the support the Georgia State Defense Force provides to the Georgia Army National Guard.
Nothing can stop the overwhelming power of a hurricane, therefore, first responders must practice and be ready when called to respond.