Northland Military, First Responders To Train in Disaster Response

Heidi Enninga
August 24, 2015 06:28 PM

The disaster preparedness communities expect from military and first responders is set to be tested and improved in Duluth this week. 

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Agencies all over Minnesota are running Vigilant Guard training exercises, a program sponsored by the United States Norther Command and the National Guard Bureau, with Duluth serving as the only out-state training venue. 

As part of that training, local agencies were touring the Mobile Emergency Operations Center or "MEOC", a trailer that will serve as a command and control hub during a natural or manmade emergency such as a flood, wildfire, tornado, cyber attack, oil trail derailment or bombing. 

When one large-scale incident happens the military, fire, police and even Red Cross may all be working together on the recovery. Now, that coordinated response can happen right on site with military and civilian agencies head-quartered in one trailer.

On Monday, those different agencies were touring the MEOC, getting a first look at where they would be working together trying to figure out what's wrong and how to fix it. 

In the event of an incident, any agency could request the MEOC, the governor would approve the request and the MEOC would be delivered to the 148th Fighter Wing where local officials would determine how it would be utilized. 

The operations center houses stations with computers, phones, radios. Officials can monitor radio reports from responders on the site because all the frequencies are patched together in the center, plus watch 360 video of the disaster site. A smart board, white boards throughout and a video conference room allows the team to coordinate efforts at home and at a distance with the governor, mayors or other officials. 

This week 148th members will train on the equipment as well as other local agencies. 

The first MEOC was built in 2011 and demand for the centers has been high. There are now 21 in the United States. The unit in Duluth came from Des Moines Iowa.

Training exercises are staging this week at the DECC, a shipyard near Barker's Island, the 148th and the Rice Point Rail Yard

The 148th says folks can expect to see military and emergency presence there all week. 


Heidi Enninga

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