Vigilant Guard training comes to Florence

Vigilant Guard training comes to Florence (Image 1)
Vigilant Guard training comes to Florence (Image 1)

FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW)- The South Carolina National Guard, along with state and county emergency management agencies, are conducting a disaster readiness exercise called vigilant guard this weekend all over the state. In Florence county, soldiers are preparing for a category four hurricane and training for how they’d respond to get citizens help.

“Everybody believes that this won’t happen to us.”

Andrew Golden, with Florence county emergency management knows he can’t do his job with that mindset.

 “Unfortunately we have to prepare as if something could happen and we want to let the citizens of Florence county know that we’re doing everything that we can to prepare and anticipate something that could happen so we can better serve them.”

That is why Golden partnered with the National Guard in training exercises he flew across Florence county to take damage assessment photos. In the event of an emergency, county officials would be able to fly over, see what areas are the most damaged and figure out the best way to get everything up and running again.

“It’s like anything else. The more you train, the more you’re ready for when something actually does happen.”

But Golden wasn’t the only person training to help Florence county.

More than four-hundred soldiers from Georgia and South Carolina came to the command center to train and support the Florence area if disaster were to strike.

 “Usually when there’s a natural disaster the national guard has agreements with other states and agencies to bring in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and also federal agencies. This is the pre-staging prior to the storm so those soldiers can come in prepared to go out to the communities,” said Lieutenant Colonel Tim Wood.

Lieutenant Colonel Tim Wood has served in the army for nearly thirty years and says trainings like this one has enabled him to save many people’s lives.

“The most memorable for me was Hurricane Katrina. It really emphasizes that the local citizens look for help when there is a disaster.”

Wood says emergency management is one of the many hats he wears but one he doesn’t mind putting on.

“To be there for the citizens, be there for the community because most guardsmen are a part of the community. We have the families, wives and children and our neighbors and that’s who we are helping, our neighbors.”

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