FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Oct. 1, 2015) -- Members of the emergency management team from Fort Leonard Wood toured the Missouri National Guard Emergency Operations Center and the Missouri State EOC in Jefferson City, Missouri, Sept. 17.

According to Becky Haas, chief of operations for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, the visit provided an opportunity to share best practices and discuss interagency capabilities with the MONG and the state EOC before an incident happens. "We must work as a team during an emergency response or recovery," she said.

Col. Barrett Parker, Missouri State Emergency Preparedness liaison officer, and Army Reserve officer for Army North, Federal Emergency Management Agency Region VII, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, concurred.

"One of the best practices in preparing for disaster response is to ensure the first time you meet someone isn't during a real-world event," Parker said. "While Fort Leonard Wood and the Missouri National Guard have a long history of working together, these bonds must be reinforced periodically due to personnel turnover, especially among senior leaders."

"This meeting between the garrison commander and the MONG operations reinforces our commitment to work together in unison in the event of an emergency," Parker added.

Haas said she found it refreshing to see that while the state maintains online emergency response tools, which allow for information sharing, they also train with tools that do not require Internet interface.

"If all of our tools reside on the Internet, how do we respond if the power goes out?" Haas said. "We still have to train with those non-technologically dependent tools like maps, dry-erase boards, pencil and paper."

Col. Andy Herbst, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, said, "I am proud of our EOC team for improving many facets of the online emergency response program, which enhances our ability to share a common operating picture, increase situational awareness after an all-hazards event and give the senior commander the space and time he needs to make decisions that save lives and protect property."

"Their efforts were recognized and praised by the Missouri National Guard Emergency Operations Center and the Missouri State EOC who will eagerly partner with the Fort Leonard Wood EOC team and adopt many of the revisions the Fort Leonard Wood EOC has made over the last year to our own natural disaster process and programs," Herbst said.

Herbst invited the MONG and state teams to participate in Fort Leonard Wood's full-scale exercise, which is scheduled to take place in November.