Communications experts around the State prepare for the National Level Earthquake Exercise

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Story by the Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office
Photos by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Oliver, KYNG PAO

Kentucky Air Guardsmen install the Small Portable Initial Communications Equipment satellite antenna at Boone National Guard Center State Communication Exercise in Frankfort, Ky., April 1.

FRANKFORT, Ky–The Kentucky Guard and Kentucky Emergency Management hosted a mobile communications capability “Rodeo” for state public safety agencies at the Boone National Guard Center on Friday April 1.  These agencies also participated in the state-wide communication exercise in preparation for the National Level Earthquake Exercise (NLE) scheduled for mid-May.

Chuck Stribling, OSH Federal-State coordinator with Labor Cabinet, and Chief Warrant Officer 4 David Barker, JFHQ wireless IT manager, discuss logistics in the labor cabinet mobile center for the state communication exercise.

“It’s a definite ‘win’ when we all can get together, work together, and problem-solve together as one Kentucky before an emergency, “said Chief Warrant Officer 4 David Barker, KYNG Wireless Manager. “When we had the ice storm of 2009, we asked the Florida Guard to provide communication resources that we now know we have in Kentucky.”

The COMEX and Communications rodeo was comprised of over 300 personnel from the Kentucky Army and Air National Guard, the Kentucky Emergency Management, Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky State Fire Commission, Kentucky Labor Cabinet, Murray State University, and Lexington Fayette Emergency Management.

Several state agencies participated in the communication 'rodeo' and COMEX at Boone Center, 1 April 2011.

The COMEX involved setting up primary communication of voice and data required to serve Kentucky in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, as will be simulated during the NLE.

This specific earthquake exercise, known as NLE 2011, will model the decisions and actions that officials will take in the first 96-hours after a 7.0 earthquake. This is the first NLE to focus on a natural hazard, rather than a terrorism scenario.

“Is Kentucky ready for a 7.7 earthquake? No.  Are we more prepared than we used to be?  Absolutely!” said John Heltzel, director for Kentucky Emergency Management.  “The ice storm of 2009 taught us many valuable lessons which we have continued to build from.  From our lessons learned, we now have a fully staffed resource management section. Prior to the ice storm, we didn’t.”

The NLE 2011 will include hands on training with local responders, federal and state emergency management officials, and private sector partners throughout the Commonwealth. FEMA and Homeland Security officials are scheduled to participate in NLE 2011 as well.

The NLE 2011 is expected to be the largest joint exercise in United States’ history, based on a natural event.

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