US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association

The U.S. Virgin Islands Government conducted the final phase of the Vigilant Guard 2017 Full Scale Exercise (VG17) from May 15‐19 that engaged territorial and federal resources into a response to an emergency event. VG17 is the largest exercise that the U.S. Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency and the USVI National Guard (VING) has ever conducted.

The exercise started with the activation of the 31 sirens of the VITEMA warning system, notifying residents and visitors throughout the territory about the event. USVI Gov. Kenneth Mapp joined VITEMA Director Mona Barnes, VING Adjutant General BG Deborah Howell, FEMA CAD Director Alejandro De La Campa and FEMA pre‐designated Federal Coordinating Officer Bill Vogel as well as other senior leadership to discuss progressing situations and strategies to approach catastrophic emergency needs.

VG17 tested the ability of the territory to respond to a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami waves of up to 20 feet. Throughout the VG17, territorial and federal participants jointly dealt with issues related to “extensive” infrastructure damages, which “produced” concurrent immediate response for mass casualties, search and rescue, debris removal, multiple hazardous material releases and other similar operations.

All participating officials agreed on the mutual benefits of having interactions before any real event occurs, which facilitates the coordination among territorial and federal responding teams.

The USVI government also tested its emergency information system, establishing a satellite and a main Joint Information Center on St. Croix and St. Thomas, holding press conferences and providing continuous key messaging to the public throughout the exercise.

The U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard Bureau sponsor the Vigilant Guard program, which gives states and territories the opportunity to improve emergency coordination with their federal and military partners. VITEMA and the USVING lead the series of exercises that concluded with the VG 2017.

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