RI Hosts Hurricane Exercise

Victims lay mangled in a pile of rubble as first responders and members of the National Guard work to rescue them. They are simulating the aftermath of a category 3 hurricane.

“{The exercise} is to train all of the agencies on a major catastrophic event,” said Major General Kevin R. McBride, the Adjutant General and Commanding General of the Rhode Island National Guard.

A mock structure collapse was held Tuesday in Exeter. It's is part of a federally funded 5 day disaster exercise being held in Rhode Island this week. The hurricane drill, called operation Vigilant Guard, brings together more than 1,100 national guard personnel with members of the state and federal emergency management agencies.

“We are assessing the situation, assessing the need, the significance of the event and then putting our assets to work,” said Theresa Murray, the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency.

At EMA Headquarters in Cranston responders are already more than 24 hours into the scenario. Like in a real hurricane power has been cut off and the operations center established to respond to the simulated disaster is now running on satellites and generators.

JFT Guardian Commander Brigadier General Mark. E. Jannitto says the goal here is simple.

“We do not want to be doing this, figuring out all of our processes, after the hurricane hits,” says BG Jannitto.

When disaster strikes emergency officials say communication between the cities, towns, and responders becomes key.

“The more we can talk to each other the more we understand what the circumstances are the easier it is for us to respond collectively,” said Nick Russo, Federal Coordinating Officer with FEMA.

Rhode Island is serving as an example for countries over seas as representatives from several nations prone to hurricanes attended the exercise to learn how to better prepare themselves.

Vigilant Guard runs July 30th through August 3rd, 2012.