Wyoming Air National Guard participates in state exercise

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Rusty Ridley
  • 153rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 153rd Airlift Wing participated in a Strategic National Stockpile exercise named Prairie Eagle May 14, 2012, delivering simulated vaccines via a C-130, a first for the state of Wyoming.

The Wyoming Air National Guard, in conjunction with the Wyoming Department of Health, flew a mission to Jackson Hole, Wyo. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was inspecting the department's ability to receive, deliver and distribute medical vaccines and supplies to various parts of the state.

For the inspection, the Wyoming Department of Health had to deliver supplies within a specified timeframe from a distribution point in Cheyenne.

"If the supplies were to be driven to Jackson Hole, it would have taken over nine hours," said Lt. Col. Gary Monroe, 153rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. "Working together with the Department of Health and the Wyoming Air National Guard, we delivered in four hours."

Once the delivery truck arrived at the Wyoming Air National Guard base, Airmen assigned to the 153rd Logistics Readiness Squadron's Small Air Terminal began unloading, inspecting, weighing, marking and loading the pallets onto the aircraft all under the watchful eye of exercise evaluators. Airmen also flew along to assist with unloading the aircraft in Jackson Hole.

"It helps us identify what we would need by way of equipment and better ways to execute a mission like this," said Robert Sherard, Wyoming Department of Health planning coordinator. "It gives us a timeline of unloading the material, loading onto the aircraft, arrival and off-loading again."

Other agencies in the state also supported the exercise including the Wyoming Department of Homeland Security and the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

"The exercise also helps us identify any other operational considerations we might have missed along the line," Sherard said. "If we had to deploy this SNS package, we're trying to get as much time as we can. We work within a tight window and we're trying to train well so we can respond well."

Gov. Matt Mead was briefed on the exercise and the role of the Wyoming National Guard and how its capabilities and assets can be utilized in times of emergency.

"This mission not only exercises the Air Guard but the process the department of health, homeland security and Joint Force Headquarters would need to use and what would be expected if the need were to arise," said Monroe.

As part of the exercise, soldiers from the Wyoming Army National Guard were dispatched to Jackson Hole, Casper, Lander and Rock Springs to disbursement sites working with local emergency managers on logistics and security measures.

"It really comes down to being able to help people in the state," said Monroe. "The training was a win-win for everyone involved."