Unified efforts prepare civilian respondents, guard for emergencies

VOLK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Wis. -- Thirty-two military personnel and 23 civilians, all from the state of Wisconsin, joined together for three days of unified reception, staging, onward movement and integration training and exercises at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, Nov. 17-19.

The three day training and exercise event was designed to test the knowledge and response capabilities of all personnel involved, should an emergency situation arise in the state. Development of the URSOI process integrates state agencies and the National Guard during state emergencies and allows them to work together efficiently.

"We are pioneering an enhanced set of processes for uniformly bringing military and civilian responders to an incident site in order to make the response efforts more integrated," said Mark Greenwood, Wisconsin Emergency Management response supervisor.

Greenwood was part of the working group that began in November 2013, following a request from the Wisconsin Homeland Security Council to develop a unified response package.

The first step of this working group was to create a concept plan. The initial working group design included both training and exercise scenarios and this three-day event at Volk Field allowed them to exercise that plan and look for improvements.

"The mixture of both training and exercises was a great approach," said Capt. Charles Teasdale, incident commander for the Wisconsin Incident Management Team. "It has given us a chance to crawl before we run. In my civilian role as a state patrol commander, I utilize the Guard resources on a regular basis - this is a lot more intense though. It's a much larger scale exercise that has allowed us to integrate - we came together and identified a common objective - and accomplished it successfully."

Now that the first step the working group developed has been completed, they plan to meet regularly to work on process improvements.

"This has been a really good step - necessary and beneficial," said Col. Julie Gerety, director of domestic operations. "There has been great collaboration between the civilian responders and the National Guard. The National Guard is always in a support role, and this exercise allows us to be up here supporting the civil authorities."

The guard's support will not end here. Another exercise has been planned for next July, to give the working group a chance to refine the processes and implement them again at a much larger scale.