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SD National Guard, local agencies practice disaster response

SALEM -- Units of the 139th Brigade Support Battalion trained alongside several public safety agencies in preparation for disaster response in communities throughout eastern South Dakota.

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SALEM - Units of the 139th Brigade Support Battalion trained alongside several public safety agencies in preparation for disaster response in communities throughout eastern South Dakota.

The training exercise - which occurred on March 31 through April 2 - was a joint disaster response operation to help the South Dakota National Guard and local agencies learn how to work better together when responding to emergencies.

Working with the SDNG in the multi-agency training included city officials from Clear Lake, Redfield and Salem and emergency management officials from Deuel, Spink and McCook counties.

"Our goal was to focus our field training exercise around working with local civilian authorities, emergency managers and city officials to get some experience in responding to a natural disaster or state emergency," said Lt. Col. Jason Kettwig, 139th commander. "We do a battalion FTX every year, but this is the first exercise that has ever been focused on emergency management and our state mission."

The training in Salem with Company B of the 139th focused on a simulated Humvee rollover with vehicle recovery that featured mannequins portraying casualties. This helped the agencies understand what it would be like to respond in real-life situations.

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"Our scenario was that a tornado went through the Salem area and Co. B would respond and provide recovery support to McCook County and the city of Salem," said Staff Sgt. Dennis Schley, Co. B training NCO. "The event allowed us to conduct a recovery operation with a rolled-over vehicle in the ditch, with casualties. Learning how to work together as an organization, with the command and control, allows us to know where our part is in an event like this."

Vehicle recovery operators from Co. B worked hand-in-hand with the McCook County Emergency Responders to evaluate the scene and determine a safe course of action to assist the casualties as well as recover the overturned vehicle.

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