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Illinois National Guard, IEMA conduct major earthquake exercise

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) along with representatives from other state agencies, National Guard Bureau, U.S. Northern Command, and the Polish Armed Forces participated in the exercise, providing incident management and emergency management teams, agency technical experts and military personnel to support the military's training scenario.

"We gained a tremendous amount of insight by having IEMA, other civilian agencies, National Guard Bureau, U.S. NORTHCOM and Poland participate in this event," said Col. Rick G. Yoder, commander of the joint task force. "It's critical to strengthen partnerships with local, state, and federal partners before a disaster happens."

The exercise simulated a 7.2 magnitude earthquake centered on the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The event took place at the 183rd Fighter Wing and the Joint Forces Headquarters in Springfield, Illinois.

The National Guard has a standing mission to provide support to civil authorities during natural disasters. The joint task force provides command and control of military personnel and equipment in support of civil authorities during a complex catastrophe like an earthquake.

"We want to be able to respond rapidly and efficiently and training together supports that goal," said Yoder. "We train the force to anticipate need. It's ultimately about saving lives and property."

Approximately 220 Army and Air National Guard members and more than 100 civilian emergency management personnel participated.