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News | July 29, 2021

Georgia Guard partnership brings swift-water rescue to country of Georgia

By (Courtesy article) Georgia National Guard

The Marietta, Ga. Fire Department traveled to the country of Georgia, located in the Black Sea Region, to partner and train Georgian Emergency Management Services in Swift-Water Rescue techniques at Borjomi, Georgia, from July 26 to August 6.

The course trains students in lifesaving methods in flood or swift waters caused by heavy rains, hurricanes, or other natural disasters.

The Georgia National Guard works with the U.S. Embassy within Georgia through the Bilateral Affairs Officer (BAO). These officers live in the partner nation, maintain communication and coordinate with the State Partnership Program while building solid relationships to communicate between the two organizations effectively.

U.S. Army Maj. Daniel Sekula, a Georgia Army National Guardsman, serving as a bilateral affairs officer, office of Defense Cooperation in Tbilisi, Georgia, coordinated the training between the two organizations. “We want to continue to build the mentorship between Georgia and Georgia and expand the relationship between civilian organizations,” said Sekula. “This is a great experience.”

The Marietta Fire Department designed the course in 2009 to train firefighters in their department to complete dangerous water rescues. Over the years, MFD continued to refine the class and opened the course to other local and state agencies, fire departments, and the military.

“Last year, we taught Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers from the 201st [Regional Support Group], and they enjoyed the program,” said Ron Presley, Firefighter 2/EMT 1, Marietta Fire Department. “They [Georgia Army National Guard] got with Maj. Sekula and asked if we could do a Georgia to Georgia Swift-Water class over here.”

The training opportunity required extensive coordination between numerous agencies and departments at local and federal agencies from both countries. Sekula identified the training need from the Emergency Management Service of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs and submitted the project to the Overseas, Humanitarian Disaster and Civic Aid department of the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

Sekula’s experience working with the country of Georgia through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program provided the knowledge of both countries the solution for this need for specialized water recovery training.

The Department of Defense established the National Guard State partnership program in 1996 to provide assistance and humanitarian aid to former countries aligned under the Soviet Union. The state of Georgia became a partner to the new nation of Georgia in that year.

The SPP promotes healthy, long-lasting partnerships committed beyond the completion of initial objectives. Successful alliances share burdens and invest time and effort in creating continuing relationships. They are built on cultural understanding and respect for each other’s sovereignty.

The Marietta Fire Department’s Swift-Water Rescue Training with Georgian Emergency Management Service is an example of the increased priority of interoperability between two nations.

“This partnership increases our interoperability,” said Lt. Col. Colin Thompson, Director of Georgia State Partnership Program, Joint Force Headquarters, Georgia National Guard. “It’s a mutual benefit to both countries that strengthen the economy and security.”