BATON ROUGE, LA — The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) will coordinate a full scale exercise April 5th to test the disaster response capabilities of several state, local and federal agencies. Search-and-rescue (SAR) activities between the Louisiana National Guard (LANG) and other agencies will be the primary focus area of this major exercise leading up to hurricane season.
“Hurricane season is only two months away,” says GOHSEP Director Kevin Davis. “This exercise helps GOHSEP, the Louisiana National Guard and our other emergency partners focus on response to a tropical system or any other type of natural disaster the state may face.”
Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the LANG, says, “The Louisiana National Guard is prepared to respond to any natural disaster – anytime and anywhere in support of our civilian emergency responders. This annual exercise tests just that by training and working closely with all of our partner agencies at the local, state and federal levels to ensure our response plans are successful and effective. Our Guardsmen understand on a personal level the importance of training to ensure we are ready to protect what matters when tragedy strikes. They stand ready and able to save lives and protect property.”
The exercise will be staged in three locations: the Bonnet Carre Spillway in St. Charles Parish, Belle Chase Naval Air Station in Plaquemines Parish and at the Port of Lake Charles (Westlake) in Calcasieu Parish.
In addition to air, water and ground SAR activities, the exercise will allow participating agencies a chance to test capabilities like communications, evacuation procedures, points of distribution (PODs) and pet/animal evacuation and care following a crisis.
Other agencies participating included the Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Corrections, Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office, Department of Children and Family Services, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Department of Transportation and Development.
Local leaders from Calcasieu, Plaquemines, and St. Charles Parishes will also be a part of the event.
The Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) are active in the drill with a focus on animal rescue during disaster response.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season starts on June 1 and runs until November 30.