State Tests Communications in Earthquake Drill

May 18, 2011

FRANKFORT – Kentucky and other several other states teamed up this week with federal, state government officials, volunteer organizations and representatives of business and industry to kick off National Level Exercise 2011, a week-long simulation of a catastrophic earthquake centered on the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

NLE 2011 provides an opportunity to exercise and evaluate the entire spectrum of existing capabilities to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from major disasters in an integrated fashion, according to a press release from Gov. Steve Beshear's office.

As part of the exercise on Tuesday, President Obama hosted a video teleconference with participating states, including Kentucky, to discuss roles and responsibilities of government, response coordination efforts and lessons learned moving forward.

The exercise's activities on Monday focused on alert notifications and communications. The Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center, located at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, was activated and conducted a series of communications tests to begin the exercise. More than 10,000 communication contacts verified receiving the notifications that announced the start of the exercise.

NLE 2011 will exercise capabilities while testing plans, policies and procedures, including the Federal Interagency Response Plan – Earthquake and State and Regional New Madrid catastrophic plans.

Tuesday was the second day of the exercise, and efforts focused on life safety and Search and Rescue missions. Search and Rescue teams flew to Calloway County from Frankfort and Bowling Green and demonstrated how to integrate into and augment local emergency management.

The Kentucky National Guard deployed approximately 400 Service members throughout the state in support of the multi-state exercise, including an Air Guard contingency in Springfield, Mo.

“We spent the last six months refining our Earthquake Response Plan, updating it with real-world lessons from the 2009 ice storm and from the recent flooding in western Kentucky," said Col. William A. Denny, deputy chief of staff for operations. "We are now in the process of testing this plan with real first responders, elected officials, emergency managers and Kentucky guardsmen. It's truly a unique and vital test of our emergency response planning."

NLE 2011 is one of the largest joint exercises in U.S. history and for the first time is being based on a natural event. Organizers invited everyone – private citizens, businesses, private business and industry and centers of government – to participate and exercise their own earthquake preparations.

For more information on the NLE 2011, daily agendas, scheduled daily participation links and to register as a participant, visit