TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)– The Kansas National Guard Blackhawk helicopters are empty now, but with just one phone call, the helicopter and the six others in the fleet, could be in the air heading to provide relief for people in Houston.
Major Peter J. Kephart says the Guard’s job is to always be ready. The Kansas National Guard trains for these missions all year.
“We’re not just a the one weekend a month, two weeks a year,” Major Kephart said. “We’re at the flight facility once if not twice a week, or several times a month at least to maintain a proficiency in flying the aircraft and operating all the duties associated with that.”
They have about 40 soldiers ready to help those people in Houston. They would carry out medical evacuations and move equipment.
All states tell the National Guard Bureau what assets they have to offer and Texas selects what they need. At that point, the Kansas National Guard will step up and deploy to Texas, if selected.
“They trained for it again this weekend, and are literally just standing by waiting for the call,” said Katie Horner, Kansas Adjutant General Public Affairs Director. “It’ll just be getting the guys and the gals in the helicopters, soldiers deploy and were heading down there. It’ll maybe take 3-4 hours to get the aircraft in the area.”
Major Kephart said if the call comes, he will be proud to help where he can.
“That’s why I’ve been wearing this uniform for over 21 years now, proud to serve the nation, serve the state of Kansas, and to help folks where they need the help,” Kephart said.
The Kansas National Guard hasn’t been called for help yet, but the soldiers will be ready to serve if needed.
There are always ways citizens can get involved to be prepared to help in natural disasters. There are courses available to take online and in person, like the incident system training class, where people learn how to manage what happens on the scene of an incident.
Jay Gradinger is the military assistance to civil authorities administrator for the Kansas National Guard and said people with more experience would be sent to other states for disasters, especially for a complex situation like Houston.
“It’s a matter of what is needed, who is available, what experience do they have, what level of training do they have?” Gradinger said. “If something of this nature down in Texas, the state [is] probably going to be picky on who they send.”
Gradinger encourages those who want to volunteer to take contact their local emergency manager to take the classes.
Listed below are ways to contact your county emergency manager if you want to volunteer.
Click here to find the contacts for Shawnee County’s Emergency Management.
Click here to find the contacts for Riley County’s Emergency Management.
Click here to find the contacts for Lyon County’s Emergency Management.