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The North Dakota National Guard conducts training for fighting wildfires



Bismarck, North Dakota – The severity of natural disasters can rapidly worsen in a matter of minutes. The North Dakota National Guard needs to maintain a state of heightened vigilance and always be prepared to take action when necessary.

On Friday, the Joint Operations Center staged a simulated emergency response for potential wildfires across the state. The exercise was designed to help prepare for such a response. The severe drought that the state went through in the previous year was a major factor in the decision-making process when developing the fire scenarios.

“So, the guard is preparing to provide air surveillance of the different fires, the multiple fires across the state of North Dakota,” said Co. Steve Selzler. One group simulated the fires in location and size and another group worked on how they would respond.

The purpose of this activity is to discuss any weaknesses that the group may currently have as well as possible solutions to those weaknesses. “So, by practicing these events in order to provide that quick support just makes us more effective at what we do,” said Selzler.

More than 30 guard soldiers, in addition to traditional soldiers, were involved in the incident. These individuals only show up for training twice per year for a total of four weeks and one weekend each month. “Because they don’t do this every day but what is really impressive is that when they come here, they know exactly what to do and doing these exercises helps them to hone those skills,” said Lt. Col. Ann Willoughby.

Flooding, blizzards, and other natural disasters are all the subject of similar exercises conducted by the Guard.