By Staff Sgt. Josiah Pugh, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana National Guard hosted its annual 3-day All-Hazards Coordination Workshop at Jackson Barracks, New Orleans, March 15-17. The workshop is designed to improve the ability of attending states’ and territories’ National Guards to support their governors and citizens through coordinated aid agreements in the event of a major disaster between 2022-2023.
This year marked the return of an in-person conference since the global pandemic began in 2020 now that travel restrictions have been lifted. The workshop was also offered virtually through videoconferencing software for those who could not attend in person, making it the first ever hybrid workshop for this event.
The venue provided the opportunity for representatives from 54 states and territories to coordinate and formalize Emergency Management Assistance Compacts. EMAC is the nation’s mutual aid system designed to help states and territories receive aid in the event of natural or manmade disasters.
More than 65,000 personnel from 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were deployed under EMAC in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. These compacts bring assistance when catastrophic disasters outstrip what local authorities can manage on their own.
Lt. Col. Kevin S. Middleton, the officer in charge of the workshop, said this event is invaluable for the state’s response to disaster.
“This workshop provides a mechanism to facilitate shared understanding of what assets we would need to fill our capability gaps for a Level 1 event, the Joint Reception Staging Onward Movement and Integration process and locations, and what their projected functions would be once they are integrated into an operation.”
States like Louisiana deal primarily with floods and hurricanes. Other states like California fight earthquakes and wildfires, while Missouri handles floods and tornadoes. Every state and territory faces challenges unique to their geography, and this workshop allows capability gaps to be filled. For instance Florida may pledge a number of troops to assist Louisiana in the event of a major flood so that more lives can be saved and to speed recovery.
Middleton said the challenges the LANG faced over the last two years have changed since COVID began.
The workshop attendees congregated into an auditorium where they planned how to coordinate for disasters, made logistical arrangements, held breakout sessions and presented on the threats unique to each state and territory.