Kentucky Guard tests multiple agencies’ communication abilities
By Master Sgt. Phil Speck, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published December 30, 2015
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Kentucky Emergency Management, the Kentucky National Guard and multiple federal, state and local agencies participated in a week-long communications exercise recently to test their ability to communicate with each other during emergencies.
For the first time ever, emergency management introduced four new "showcases" in which federal, state and local agencies tested radio communication interoperability at different geographic sites across the state.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Dave Barker explained that these showcases gave the agencies a chance to network with each other and develop plans for working together during incidents.
"The reason we do these exercises is to prepare us to be ready and able for an emergency," Barker said. "It allows us to make sure we have the equipment that's needed and operational."
This year the four locations for the showcases were in Burlington, Somerset, Bowling Green and at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville.
The state normally executes a communications exercise every year, but it had only been staged in Frankfort previously and involved fewer agencies. The Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky Fire Commission and local emergency managers were just a sampling of the agencies that were involved this year, Barker said.
"This was very important to us, to see what the local agencies brought to the fight."
The showcases, which were staged during the week of June 22-26, also allowed for interoperability programming, in which radios were programed so more agencies could communicate with each other than ever before.
"We believe this was a big success, and we plan to keep the multiple showcase locations," Barker said. "We want to keep building this thing by offering training classes in the future as well."
Senior Airman Kaleb Henry, a readiness program specialist for the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron, said he benefited from the training by learning to link his radio platforms with everybody else's, and also how to use radio platforms he wasn't familiar with.
Henry also appreciated the opportunity to meet other emergency responders in person.
"It's important to have that face-to-face with other emergency managers, so if there's an incident you feel comfortable with the people you're working with," Henry said.