LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – When disaster strikes in the U.S, the Army National Guard is normally deployed for assistance. But how does the guard integrate itself with emergency responders at state and county levels? First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff shows us a training exercise meant to build those relationships.
Collaboration is the number one priority of an interagency training exercise taking place at Fort McCoy.
Members of the Army and Air National Guard are working hand-in-hand with state and county agencies as part of the Patriot 21 exercise.
The exercise tests the Guard’s abilities to support response operations, such as the simulated disaster participants will be taking part in.
The emergency scenario involves an earthquake creating a collapsed building, mass casualties, and the need for search and rescue.
Lt. Col. Sarah Ashley Nickloes says working through emergency scenarios helps build up effective lines of communication.
“When you put the Army and the Air together, we speak different languages, so when we put the civilians in also, they definitely speak a different language than us,” Nickloes described.
Fellow Lt. Col. Roger Brooks says the main goal of the exercise is working together in an efficient manner to save as many lives as possible.
“How do I talk to civilian organizations being a military member and vice versa, ultimately it’s about alleviating suffering for the local populous and our communities,” Brooks added.
More than 1,000 people from 26 different states are participating at both Fort McCoy and at the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center at Camp Douglas.
Nickloes says this is the 10th iteration of Patriot 21 she has been a part of, and the feedback from past participants is what motivates her to continue with the program.
“The thing that really makes me happy and keeps me going is when we get calls from the different departments or squadrons or civilians [saying] the training we got at Patriot  helped save lives and enabled us to respond the most effective way,” Nickloes expressed.