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NEWS | Feb. 5, 2014

Kentucky National Guard recognized for best emergency management program

By David Altom Kentucky National Guard

FRANKFORT, Ky. - The Kentucky Army National Guard has been recognized for the top Army emergency management operation in the nation, according to a report from the Army National Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The report, which comes five years after the winter storm of 2009, is seen as a benchmark for the Kentucky Guard's readiness to respond to natural disasters and emergencies on the domestic front.

In January of 2009 more than 100 counties declared states of emergency, necessitating the mobilization of the entire Kentucky National Guard. More than 4,000 troops were deployed across the state, delivering water, food and fuel during freezing temperatures and hazardous conditions. Guard members also conducted door-to-door wellness checks to ensure the safety and welfare of local citizens.

"This is good feedback that we're doing the right thing," said Warrant Officer Charlie Harris, an emergency management coordinator for the Kentucky Guard. "We've worked hard to make sure that the Guard can respond effectively and efficiently in a time of crisis."

"We have to take care of ourselves so we can take of our communities. The winter storm of 2009 was a wakeup call in that regard," Harris said.

By regulation, the Army Emergency Management Program "serves as the single integrated emergency management program for the planning, execution, and management of response efforts ... to mitigate the effects of an all-hazard incident, to include but not limited to, natural, manmade, and technological disasters, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incidents and accidents on or affecting Army installations, facilities, and/or activities...."

In other words, if there's trouble, the Kentucky National Guard has to be ready to respond. This means Guard facilities must have plans and redundancies in place to minimalize the effects of a disaster or incident, allowing the troops to focus on the local community instead of itself. For example, armory generators have to be ready to go and vehicles pre-placed for rapid deployment when needed. This in addition to training Soldiers on what they are expected to do.

"We have the plans in place, we conduct our exercises, and we're able to get back to those mission essential items as soon as possible because people are depending on us," said Harris. "Our program is so good other states are asking for help. And we're helping them. "This is something we take very seriously."