Kentucky’s Air Guard Exercises the Initial Response Hub
Photos by Maj. Dale Greer and Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel, Kentucky Air National Guard
Story by Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht, Public Affairs, Kentucky National Guard
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky (May 14th, 2012) — More than 30 Kentucky Guardsmen and two C-130 aircraft from the 123rd Airlift Wing mobilized and flew to Fort Campbell, Ky, during a no-notice exercise response to a notional 7.6 magnitude earthquake outside of St. Louis on Monday. Within three hours of the telephonic recall initiated by the Initial Response Hub Mission Commander, Col. Warren Hurst, the relief response personnel from the special tactics squadron, the contingency response group, security forces, maintenance, medical and public affairs were airborne to Western Kentucky.
“We threw the team a curve ball,” said Col. Gregory Nelson, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing. “Initially our Airmen were planning and preparing for a notional hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, as hurricane season is coming. At the last minute, we changed the entire mission and injected a New Madrid earthquake response exercise, requiring the crews to create new flight plans and prepare for a completely different scenario. This is how real life and real disasters work.”
See the video from Louisville’s Fox station, WDRB
Once at Fort Campbell, the Kentucky first air-responders assessed the runways, evaluated the air traffic routes, prepared for emergency evacuations and established voice, data and video communication with FEMA, Transportation Command, the National Guard Bureau and other vital national agencies.
“I’m a critical care nurse in the Air National Guard, and I’ve come down to help where air evac assets should be used,” said Lt. Col. David Worley from the 123rd’s medical squadron.
Accompanying the Kentucky Air Guard were eight member of the Commonwealth’s civilian media, including Lexington’s Sean Moody from WKYT. “It was an eye-opening experience,” Moody explained. “I was amazed at how fast the 123rd packed up and flew out of Louisville, landed in Campbell and so quickly went to work on the airfield.”
The earthquake relief exercise tested several lessons learned from recent real-world relief missions involving Katrina, Haiti, Japan and Pakistan. The initial response hub is a unique first air response asset that the 123rd AW can provide FEMA during any state-side disaster, natural or man-made.
“Only in Louisville have we put these capabilities together along with the C130′s to provide a rapid response to a disaster in our country,” said Nelson. “We stand ready to do this mission when our nation needs us. We have proven we can do this mission.”