CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia National Guard is honing its emergency response skills by simulating major threats that have previously happened across the nation and world.
On Thursday morning, the National Guard had force protection exercises in the 130th Airlift Wing in Charleston and 10 other locations throughout the state.
"This is an opportunity for our organization to sharpen our emergency response skills," said 2nd Lieutenant Stacy Gault, a public affairs officer for the West Virginia National Guard.
"It corresponds with our dual mission because we have a responsibility to the state of West Virginia to protect the citizens from natural disaster and outside threats."
The West Virginia National Guard conducted a number of exercises, which varied by number and location, but included potential active shooter drills, explosions, bomb threats, floods and snowstorms.
Gault said Martinsburg, for example, has a more internal exercise.
In some of the scenarios, the West Virginia National Guard also worked with local authorities. Local law enforcement will work alongside to practice the communication aspect of responding together in situations.
"In some sense, they're all connected. It's important for all the locations that the emergency operation centers be able to communicate with one another," Gault said.
"That's important in situations like a state of emergency, like in the past, it's a situation that may cover a broad part of the state, so having different locations talk to one another and coordinate with one another is a big part. That communication is necessary."
The annual, scheduled force-protection exercises are performed as part of the U.S. Army's Anti-Terrorism Awareness Month. Past exercises have included active shooter drills, suspicious package scenarios and events centered around white powder found in a mail room.
"Our federal mission applies when we're in a time of war, and our state mission is when we report to the governor," she said. "We have a responsibility in that role in the state mission to protect the citizens. And that's what we worked on here today."