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N.C. Air National Guard and Central Branch Emergency Management Exercise Tornado Strike

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Laura Montgomery
  • 145th Public Affairs
Exercise Tornado Strike 2015 brought members of the North Carolina Air National Guard, with a Mobile Emergency Operations Center (MEOC) and North Carolina Emergency Management members together at a local airport in Greensboro, N.C.

Spring has sprung in the Carolinas and with the typical wide swings in temperature, also comes the severe weather. In order to make sure first responders are ready, the North Carolina Central Branch Emergency Management held an exercise simulating a tornado touching down.

The objective of the exercise included testing the communications and interoperability of federal, state, county, volunteer and private organizations within central North Carolina. Members of the North Carolina Air National Guard exercised the effectiveness of a Mobile Emergency Operation Center along with Guilford County and State Emergency officials in a tornado scenario.

NCANG is one of twenty-two units that sustain a MEOC. The $750,000 center is capable of deploying within two and a half hours' notice and is operation-ready within thirty minutes of arrival. An 80-gallon tank can provide enough fuel for the MEOC to run for three to five days. The communication capabilities include video conferencing, satellite and internet feed, a Voice Over IP phone system, tactical radios, smart boards and the list continues.

"Our role is to do the best we can by safely bringing the MEOC and manpower to support the needs of Emergency Response agencies," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Rebecca Tongen, Emergency Management Installation Manager for the 145th Airlift Wing.

"When we roll in and someone recognizes the vehicle and knows the capabilities, it makes me proud to know that someone is aware of the MEOC and what it can accomplish," said Tongen.

Over twenty state and local agencies in and around Guilford County participated in the exercise culminating in a positive review from Jeff Childs, Coordinator for North Carolina Statewide Interoperability.

"This is the third exercise of this kind for North Carolina in the last ten months, and they are getting increasingly better as we continue to train and learn," said Childs.

Following the exercise, the agencies held a Command and Communications Rally where members were allowed to walk through the differing response vehicles and gain an understanding of what each agency was capable of bringing. Seminars were also available to instruct agencies on the equipment used during these exercises and in real world situations.

For the Air National Guard Emergency Managers, the MEOC is one more tool that allows them to perform in their multi-functional roles supporting base emergency management and state and national domestic operations, including responding to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive hazards.