First Responders Attend Initial Exercise During Tornado TableTop, Leading To Vigilant Guard In May

First Responders Attend Initial Exercise During Tornado TableTop, Leading To Vigilant Guard In May
First responders meet at Frey Conference Suite (WSC) during Tornado TableTop Exercise. 1/8/2020


WAYNE – A discussion-based exercise pertaining to a large tornado impacting the City of Wayne began a series of events Wednesday.

Over a three-hour period, several organizations worked through four modules at the Frey Conference Suite located in the Kanter Student Center on the campus of Wayne State College.

Wayne County Emergency Manager Nic Kemnitz is a Trusted Agent through the Vigilant Guard process. Kemnitz said one of the main points of the exercise was meant to start looking at their plans and procedures.

“Moving forward to the next step in March by doing a more advanced exercise and then taking another step forward in May doing a full-scale hands-on exercise for four days as part of Vigilant Guard.

The goal of the exercise was to provide a no-fault learning environment for the organizations involved to discuss how they would coordinate effort if a large tornado were to impact the City of Wayne.

Of the 88 attendees, 40 organizations were represented from two states (NE/SD) as the group featured local law enforcement, fire & rescue, health officials, area emergency managers, Wayne State College, Wayne county, weather officials and more. The four modules included severe weather, tornado impact, response and recovery. Following each “tabletop” discussion of 10-20 minutes, a spokesperson reported to the entire group of what was said that everyone should know.

Civil Support Teams (CST) from New Jersey, Iowa and Missouri were also connected to Wednesday’s meeting through the phone.

Sgt. Julius Aquino with the Nebraska National Guard is the Vigilant Guard Project Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) and provided a brief presentation at the end of the TableTop Exercise.

Sgt. Aquino added Wayne county is on the right track and that Kemnitz has been an instrumental piece of the Vigilant Guard portion.

“This meeting in general was very organized and I keep telling him that,” Sgt. Aquino added. “This is a good experience to kind of walk-through things of what’s going to be happening incase of any severe catastrophic thing that would happen in Wayne county.”

Four Vigilant Guards happen throughout the United States each year as Sgt. Aquino has visited the Vigilant Guard in Ohio, Guam (Hawaii) and will be enroute to Michigan in April.

A more advanced TableTop Tornado exercise will next be held on Thursday, March 19, according to Kemnitz.

“Of about who would be doing what,” Kemnitz mentioned. “Where would we actually do the different things we’re talking about doing. Location wise, logistics wise, calling in additional resources. Where are we doing to get them from. How is that process going to work.”

The final event will be the Vigilant Guard 20-3 Exercise taking place in Nebraska scheduled over a four-day period from May 18-21 and May 22 being a day-long “Hotwash” event answering questions and seeing what areas the state can improve on. Various locations around the City of Wayne will be affected as more details will be provided for the exercise closer to May.