Utah Air National Guard and CST Joint Exercise Bolsters Emergency Management

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Perez
  • 151 Wing

In a remarkable display of preparedness and cooperation, Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base in Utah became the focal point of a dynamic joint exercise on Sept. 20, 2023. This exercise brought together the skilled personnel of the Utah Air National Guard Emergency Management (EM) and the Utah National Guard's Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (CST).

The scenario was a simulated Weapons of Mass Destruction incident aboard a KC-135R aircraft. This collaborative effort showcased the importance of coordinated response and the invaluable insights gained from training with CST experts.

"Joint exercises like the one with the Utah Air National Guard and the Utah National Guard CST provide us invaluable opportunities to work together, learn from each other, and enhance our response capabilities," said Senior Master Sgt. Julia Dandurand, Emergency Management Superintendent with the 151st Air Refueling Wing. "During wartime, we become the first responders, specializing in handling various hazards. In both scenarios, our goal is to keep everyone safe."

EM is a dynamic and multifaceted mission pivotal in safeguarding military installations and their personnel. This complex and vital mission extends far beyond the stereotypical image of individuals in hazmat suits. EM personnel are responsible for preparing for and responding to various hazards, from natural disasters to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear incidents and peacetime and wartime scenarios.

Integrating different units and disciplines is crucial for the success of emergency management. The ultimate goal is to move from conducting joint exercises to establishing an integrated response paradigm. In this vision, during emergencies, a CST member may collaborate with an EM expert as part of the same entry team, harnessing the strengths of both disciplines to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

“Joint integration is key. Operating with joint partners will do nothing but make you a better performer and enhance your skills, says Dandurand. “We want them to take new ideas away from us, and we want to take new ideas away from them. It just makes us better, whether we're at home station or abroad.”

While formal inspection processes and organizational structures may limit complete amalgamation, day-to-day joint training sessions are crucial for forging such partnerships. The synergy between EM and CST units promises to enhance capabilities and improve overall readiness.

The joint exercise was a testament to the importance of collaboration in emergency management. Both teams showcased the dedication and expertise required to respond effectively to various potential threats. As they continue refining their techniques and integrating their efforts, the future looks promising for ensuring the safety and security of the base and the surrounding community.

This exercise not only strengthened their partnership but also highlighted the critical role they play in safeguarding lives and assets. With their commitment to excellence and the lessons learned from exercises like this one, the Utah Air National Guard and the CST team are well-prepared for whatever challenges may come their way in the ever-evolving emergency management landscape.