What Does the Guard Do In an Emergency?

With the problems in Tulsa fresh on our minds, I think I need to provide an official "What does the Guard Do in an Emergency" discussion paper. I served in the Military Support to Civil Authorities job for the Adjutant general of Kansas for several years and this is the way it was when I left there.

First, let me stress that the local and State Government along with the Sheriff carry the major part of the burden in Emergencies. They are required by law to apply all their resources first and then ask the governor if the Guard can assist. It is in that assistance that the real question of what we can do is asked. While it not clear when the officials in Louisiana asked for help, it must be clear that the Guard costs the State money and The guard must be asked for. In a lot of cases, the Guard leaders were talking with the locals and getting people ready as the request goes to the Governor. The Guard can be in a State Status or in major cases federal Status if FEMA declares the emergency. Either way, what they do is pretty much the same.

The initial response is to protect property and save lives. We will search for trapped people and maintain a perimeter that keeps the "lookie lou's" out. We will also protect property from looting as after a tornado everything you own is scattered on your front yard. On very important job we have is to help clear the streets of debris so the emergency vehicles can get to the aid of citizens. In most cases, the guard provides the manpower to aid the locals do what they are required to do by law. The Guard is not a force to clear debris from private property. The only exception to this I have seen is that we have provided manpower after an ice storm to help the community remove broken limbs that are piled by the curb. We do not go onto private property and pick up the mess. There have been cases of the Guard used to clear abandoned property of debris but only after all the local civilian contractors are used first. We aren't there to take the food out of the mouths of local businessmen.

Another thing the Guard does is provide shelter for people displaced by storms, floods and civil unrest. In Kansas, if 100 people are displaced, generally only about 25% of those people will go to our emergency shelters. Most people stay with relatives, friends and neighbors. This is just the way people here in the heartland act.

After a tornado, the Engineers may provide assistance to declare structures safe or not. I am sure that you have seen the results of searches and inspections marked on the front of structures on the news. a structure clean of bodies may have a green X on it. A Black X may be used to mark dead animals or bodies. A red X means that the structure is declared unsafe.

In some cases, the Guard has provided equipment that is not available from the civilian market. Way back when, the State provided a tent and a Herman-Nelson heater to the community of Gas, Kansas when their water treatment plant froze during a month of really cold weather. We have also provided a generator to a Nursing home in Rossville, KS to maintain heat during ice storms when the patients cannot be evacuated. On of my distinctions in that support was the owner of a restaurant in Rossville that contacted the guard and asked for a generator to keep his restaurant open. My question to him was he feeding emergency service workers food fro free? If he was charging for meals, he had to rent a generator from one of the rental companies in Topeka. Only if there were no generators available could the local Government declare his operation essential and ask for the Guard to provide a generator. The local Government must ask the State and they would pass the requested support from the guard.

In the end, the Guard is a force to multiply the ability of the community to help themselves. In most cases, when the emergency is over, the Guard is withdrawn and the local control is returned.

I hope we don't have to use the Kansas Guard any today, but I am pretty sure that they are ready to do what is needed.


1 comment:

  1. Good run-down, MUD. One of my co-workers, and a neighbor got called up to go down South and help with the flooding of the Mississippi around the Morganza.

    Good guys! Dedicated. Thank God for 'em.