VOLK FIELD, Wis. -- Natural disasters cause a great amount of devastation each year. They can happen any time, to anybody and in any area in the world -- they do not discriminate. A quick and decisive response to these tragedies can help mitigate their impact. To that end, around 900 military members and civilian emergency management personnel and responders are coming together for a Domestic Operations (DOMOPS) training exercise sponsored by the National Guard Bureau (NGB) at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center and the Fort McCoy Total Force Training Center, Wis., from July 17 -- 19, 2018.

PATRIOT North 18 is an annual training exercise that will focus on preparing civilian and military entities to work together in the same manner that they would during disasters. This exercise will test the Wisconsin Emergency Management and National Guard's abilities to support response operations based on simulated emergency scenarios such as an earthquake creating collapsed buildings, mass casualties and the need for Search and Rescue.

Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Gallegos, the Fire Chief for the 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno, Calif., and some of his firefighters are participants in the exercise.

"This exercise gives our firefighters an opportunity to gain operational skills and tactical training," said Gallegos. "It allows them to focus more on their training and gives them the opportunity to move into different positions."

Civilians, volunteers and National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from over 20 states are participating in this year's exercise, which includes personnel from the Mile Bluff Medical Center, Team Rubicon, The Salvation Army, FEMA, and the Civil Air Patrol. The exercise will help the National Guard improve cooperation and relationships with its regional, civilian, military and federal partners in preparation for emergencies and catastrophic events.

"Many Guardsmen haven't had the opportunity to work in this type of environment and PATRIOT gives our Soldiers and Airmen a chance to hone their skills to respond to a natural disaster and work with emergency management agencies," said Lt. Col. Roger Brooks, exercise director for PATRIOT. "This exercise will help all of us prepare for any disaster."