Texas Wing participates in multi-organizational emergency services exercise

HOUSTON – The U. S. Coast Guard, based at Ellington Field, hosted a joint emergency services exercise on Feb. 24 and 25.  Over 400 members from the Civil Air Patrol, Texas Department of Public Service, Texas Air National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard, Galveston and Houston sectors participated in the two day exercise.

Incident Commander Maj. Ken Wiggins from the West Houston S.A.B.R.E. Senior Squadron (2d from left) briefs other members of the Texas Wing.

Incident Commander Maj. Ken Wiggins from the West Houston S.A.B.R.E. Senior Squadron (2d from left) briefs other members of the Texas Wing.

The scenario was set. A Category 5 hurricane hit, with landfall on the Bolivar Peninsula with crucial points affected in surrounding areas.

Areas assigned were Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston Island, Houston Ship Channel, Port of Houston, Texas City oil refineries, area fairgrounds and parks. Grids were assigned with specific points of interest in each grid.

At each point, radio contact was required with the Coast Guard to give a report of the conditions.  Altitudes were given for specific aircraft — helicopters were assigned to fly at 500 ft. and fixed wing aircraft at 500 to 1,000 ft.

On the morning of the 24th, weather conditions proved to be a challenge.  Winds gusting to over 15 knots put CAP aircraft at risk for crosswind landings at Ellington Field.  Conditions improved in the afternoon and sorties were able to be completed safely.

The new Garmin wing mounted VIRB camera was used on six of the eight sorties flown during the two day exercise. The photographs from the Garmin were excellent and the only drawback was the short battery life of the camera. A Nikon camera was used on all eight flights.

The new Garmin VIRN wing mounted camera was tested by the Texas Wing during the joint emergency services exercise.

The new Garmin VIRN wing mounted camera was tested by the Texas Wing during the joint emergency services exercise.

All of the area agencies train individually and participation in a joint exercise is critical in the event of a major disaster. Orchestrating such an exercise is a large undertaking and the different capabilities of each agency has to be incorporated into the event.   Employing the lessons learned at these events can be a major factor in saving lives and property.

CAP aircraft were relocated from Houston Executive, Pearland and Sugarland Regional Airport to Ellington Field for the exercise.

Key personal from Texas Wing were Maj. Ken Wiggins, incident commander, Col. Brooks Cima and Maj. Jawad Sulton, plan objectives and Lt. Col. Don Anderson, communications.

Maj. Jawad Sultan, Shelton Cadet Squadron and Col. Brooks Cima, Texas Wing, plan objectives for the joint emergency services training exercise.

Maj. Jawad Sultan, Shelton Cadet Squadron and Col. Brooks Cima, Texas Wing, plan objectives for the joint emergency services training exercise.

U.S. Air Force liaison officer was Maj. Aric Holly.