Army joins FEMA, communities to practice emergency preparedness


ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND (APG), Md. – The U.S. Army demonstrated how it will help protect the community around Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD), Kentucky, during a Sept. 20 exercise supported by an Army organization headquartered at APG.

For more than two decades, the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity (CMA) has been responsible for executing the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP), which supports community readiness in case of an accident or incident at the chemical weapon stockpile stored at the depot. CSEPP is a unique partnership between the Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which work with state, county and local emergency personnel to exercise procedures annually.

Col. James Reckard, CMA Director, traveled to Kentucky to observe the exercise – his first since taking command of CMA this summer. He spoke to Army personnel who supported the exercise after it ended and commended their commitment to protecting lives.

“It is evident that you really care about the mission, the depot and the community,” Reckard said to more than four dozen employees at the depot’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) after the exercise. “Considering the dedication and passion I saw today, I am confident that the Blue Grass team would expertly respond in the unlikely event of an accident.”

A year of planning goes into the annual exercise that is held each September at BGAD, and in May at the other remaining chemical weapons stockpile at Pueblo Chemical Depot, Colorado. Exercises are carefully evaluated and a detailed report highlighting successes, observations and areas requiring improvement is provided to Army, FEMA leadership and Congress.

CMA’s Blue Grass Chemical Activity, commanded by Lt. Col. Scott Gould, is responsible for safely storing the depot’s stockpile. Gould supervised the situation from the depot EOC during the exercise then joined his counterparts from Madison County and the Commonwealth of Kentucky for a simulated news conference. Ten counties are part of CSEPP planning, requiring close coordination between government and community organizations to protect the public and the environment.

“While we are committed to the safe and secure storage of the chemical stockpile at BGAD, it is critically important that we conduct drills and exercises throughout the year with our community partners to ensure our plans and procedures are coordinated,” Gould said. “This exercise supports our readiness priority by ensuring the workforce and communities are trained and equipped to respond in emergency situations.”

CSEPP counties tested the communication networks they have developed during the exercise, including sirens located in and around BGAD, indoor Advisor Alert Radios, social media outlets and the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) technology. IPAWS was tested for the first time by sending a test emergency message to cell phones in Madison County and surrounding areas. Source.