Kentucky Guardsmen, Emergency Teams Practice Earthquake Drills

National Guardsmen and emergency management officials in 13 western Kentucky counties spent last week responding to an earthquake that hadn’t actually occurred.

The exercise simulated response to a magnitude 7.5 earthquake hitting at 3 a.m. CST last Tuesday along the New Madrid fault.

Col. Phil Miller, spokesman for the Kentucky National Guard, said soldiers assessed damage and conducted search and rescue. The participants worked on the assumption that telephone communications would not be working, Miller said.

The Guard broke up into small teams and spread across the area, working with emergency management officials in Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Daviess, Fulton, Graves, Henderson, Hickman, Livingston, Lyon, Marshall, McCracken and Muhlenberg counties.

Helicopters were used to carry small teams throughout the counties for relief, Miller said. Part of the exercise involved soldiers shooting video from the air and beaming it to other places using satellites, which would allow emergency managers to decide what areas have been hit the worst and how to respond, Miller said.

The drill was the first chance for the National Guard’s new 123rd Contingency Response Group to practice. The group is the first of the kind anywhere in the Air National Guard, Miller said. It includes troops based in Louisville and at Travis Air Force Base in California. Troops landed a C-130 plane at the Owensboro airport and set up air-based operations there.

Land-based operations will be based in Greenville, and communications stations will be set up in Madisonville and in Mayfield at the Kentucky State Police post on U.S. 45.


Information from: The Paducah Sun,