The Kentucky Air National Guard 123rd Air Lift Wing recently participated in a disaster relief drill to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, inviting the media along for the ride.
The day started with the entire wing being notified of activation, a process which takes only eight minutes, and then arriving at the base.
For the drill, the scenario was a 7.7 magnitude earthquake striking near Fort Campbell, knocking out communication to the base and surrounding areas.
"I think that over time we have proven that if we aren't the best, then we are one of the best. When you want a mission done right, you call the 123rd," said Master Sergeant Bradley W. Simms of the 123rd.
The wing was briefed on the situation up on arrival to the base, then the C-130s were loaded with supplies and equipment such as forklifts and ATVs.
The 123rd houses all of the necessary squadrons (special tactics squadron, a medical squadron, and a contingency response group), as well as the planes to move these groups, meaning they can leave for a disaster zone within three hours of activation.
Drills are frequently held to test and practice the wing's responses to natural disasters, but this particular drill had additional goals of using embedded media to tell the story and to test a new live-webcam feed with FEMA and other Washington officials.
Also, the 123rd was demonstrating their capabilities as first responders for FEMA, "Instead of being number three if there is something happening on the east coast or number two most of the time when something is happening in the Gulf coast... we want to be number one all the time," explained Lieutenant Colonel Kirk Hilbrecht.
In a matter of hours, the 123rd Air Lift Wing was airborne, headed to practice their disaster response skill on the ground at Fort Campbell.