Ohio National Guard News

178th Airmen team up with State Patrol
for flood relief mission

Story by Airman Rachel Simones, 178th Wing Public Affairs

Airmen with State Patrol on ground in front of helicopter.
Airmen in cockpit. Airman vidoe recording from airplane.

Senior Airman Rachel Simones, Ohio National Guard

Airmen with the 178th Wing team up with the aviation department of the Ohio State Highway Patrol to help provide flood relief to affected areas in the southern regions of Ohio, Feb. 27, 2018. About10 Airmen provided bird’s-eye view imagery to analysts on the ground who coordinated with emergency relief agencies and civil authorities.

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (02/27/18) — Soggy fields of farmland stretched for miles in the flood-ravished region of Southern Ohio. Staff Sgt. John, an analyst with the 178th Wing Incident Awareness and Assessment Team, identified locations that had been impacted by the near historic flood waters, as he flew hundreds of feet above the damage in an Ohio State Highway Patrol helicopter.

Nearly 10 Airmen with the 178th Wing were put on State Active Duty in later February to team up with the Ohio State Highway Patrol to provide flood relief assistance for several counties in the tri-state area. As the helicopter propelled them along the Ohio River, John gathered visuals of schools, power plants and other residential areas while Tech. Sgt. Jordan, another analyst with the 178th Wing IAA Team, relayed the information to other Airmen back on the ground. Once the information hit the ground, analysts were able to directly coordinate with emergency relief agencies and use the information to provide assistance.

The bird’s-eye view imagery provided detailed information for civil first responder agencies to effectively provide relief to the damaged areas. The 178th Airmen were able to leverage their technological skills with the State Patrol’s knowledge of the layout of the land to get help to Ohioans where it is needed most.

Some of the areas they analyzed included major areas of infrastructure, power plants, roads, lines of communication, hospitals, schools and residential areas that were affected by the floods.

Staff Lt. Justin Cromer, a helicopter pilot with the OHSP, discussed how the coordination with the National Guard benefited relief efforts.

“Everybody has specialties,” Cromer said. “When you bring all those agencies together and utilize those specialties, you’re going to be more effective in what you’re trying to do.”

The Ohio Air National Guard is unique because it has two missions, one federal and one state. Because of the state mission, the 178th Wing is able to provide defense support to civil authorities and respond to natural disasters when called using their capabilities to serve their own communities.

“Pictures are worth a thousand words, and that’s what we provide them,” said Lt. Col. Audrey Kawanishi, the IAA coordinator with the 178th Wing.

Kawanishi detailed the 178th Wing’s history of answering the call in times of natural disasters. Analysts previously provided imagery to decision makers when Hurricanes Harvey and Irma wreaked havoc in several states last year.

“Just this past fall we were very active during Hurricane Harvey,” Kawanishi said. “Previously to that, we’ve helped West Virginia and South Carolina with their flooding.”

The 178th has been the go-to unit for information analysis during times of natural disaster throughout the United States, and the recent flooding in Ohio was no exception.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The full names of some of the Airmen mentioned in the article were withheld due to security considerations related to the career field.

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