CLAY NATIONAL GUARD CENTER, Marietta, Georgia, January 25, 2014, By 2LT Ted Burzynski -Soldiers from the 5th Brigade, Georgia State Defense Force were tasked with an integral role in a Joint Training Exercise with Macon, Georgia / Bibb County EMA, Sheriff’s Department, Bibb County ARES, Houston County ARES and the Civil Air Patrol. The primary focus of the exercise was to get a baseline picture for future operations of how well the agencies involved would work individually and as a group during an emergency. The exercise was coordinated by SGT Rick Wolverton of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.
Units from both the Georgia State Defense Force, Civil Air Patrol alongside Bibb County EMA and Sheriff’s departments as well as Robert Reichert, the Mayor of Macon gathered in the auditorium at the 48th Brigade Headquarters in Macon, Georgia Friday afternoon January 17th to plan and coordinate the joint training exercise which would cover Bibb, Houston and Twiggs counties with the Incident Command Post located at the 48th Brigade Headquarters in Macon. The communications networks were provided by Bibb County EMA and the Civil Air Patrol with the Civil Air Patrol adding an aircraft asset to the scenario as a flying radio relay station to cover the large search area.
The following morning January 18th, just after day break, three search teams were deployed to three separate counties. Search teams consisted of Georgia State Defense Force soldiers, Civil Air Patrol ground search teams and a Bibb County Sheriff’s Department SWAT Medic. The mission for each team was to locate an ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) from a downed aircraft. The SWAT medic’s duty was to provide medical care if needed. Georgia State Defense Force soldiers were tasked with guiding the teams to their destination through their high levels of communication and land navigation skills, guiding some teams several miles through through both open and dense terrain. Once the GSDF soldiers had guided the team to the destination it became the Civil Air Patrol’s assignment to locate the ELT with their ELT direction finders. When the signal was located by the team, the Georgia State Defense Force and Civil Air Patrol formed joint line searches where possible and located the ELT’s. The joint search teams worked very well together and as some Georgia State Defense Force soldiers learned, the Civil Air Patrol Ground teams’ training is very similar the Georgia State Defense Force’s search and rescue training.
The Secondary aspect of the exercise involved a Basic HAM radio course offered to those who would utilize the additional training and certification. Members of the Georgia State Defense Force performed during the field exercise as well as the HAM radio course with several soldiers gaining their basic HAM radio certification.
According to SGT Wolverton, “the conference was a great success with all units able to recognize weaknesses, make improvements as needed and bring a valuable asset to the table during an emergency.”