The US Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) participated in a load-out exercise for disaster response preparation at Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento last week.
HC-130 Hercules aircrew members taught FEMA’s National Incident Management Team (IMAT) West how to systematically load team and personal equipment into IMAT and mobile command vehicles; safely convoy to a predetermined loading site; correctly palletize the team’s deployable equipment; and secure the stacked items with heavy-duty netting and complete the process by weighing the fully loaded 3,100-pound pallet.
The exercise also taught participating Coast Guard and FEMA personnel to safely load a 7,800-pound IMAT vehicle into an HC-130 aircraft.
Before loading the vehicle, team members received a detailed briefing about the HC-130’s capabilities and features from Chief Petty Officer Matt Burgess — an aviation maintenance technician and loadmaster — and then toured the aircraft from the cockpit to the loading ramp. The exercise provided the team with a “keen dose of reality, as the use of an HC-130 packed with team equipment, supplies and vehicles, is one real-world option that can be used to quickly deploy the IMAT to a disaster area,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.
“The importance of conducting these partnership exercises is to discover any potential issues that may delay a quick response to an actual incident,” Burgess said. “Working out hazmat issues, equipment weights, and loading procedures before an actual event, is essential to completing a safe and successful mission. The exercise also provided a unique opportunity to work with our interagency partners."
As part of FEMA’s mission to enhance preparedness and resilience, FEMA conducts trainings and exercises for a wide variety of threats and hazards. The purpose of these trainings and exercises is to test team capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the impact of disasters.
When not deployed, IMAT teams are responsible for building and maintaining close relationships with regional, state, tribal, and local emergency management officials, federal partners and the private sector to support planning, training, exercising, and other activities in preparation for disaster response.
“We learn by doing, and exercises like the load-out helps our team to better understand what it means to be expeditionary,” said N-IMAT West Team Lead Roger Laferriere. “When it’s time to deploy in support of survivors, IMAT West and our partners will be ready to respond at the highest level!”