Air National Guard fully operational through shut-down

By Chad Weber

October 7, 2013 Updated Oct 7, 2013 at 10:26 PM CDT

BARTONVILLE, Ill. -- When an emergency landing was called in at the General Wayne A. Downing International Airport Sunday night, the Peoria Air National guard was ready to respond just as it would be if the government wasn't shut down.

"Public safety here at the airport is normal operations," said Colonel William Robertson at the Peoria Air National Guard. "It was never in any jeopardy whatsoever."

Airport and Air National Guard officials want the public to know that all emergency response teams are fully prepared and staffed to respond to a situation during the shut-down.

"There was no impact man power wise or training wise in order for them to provide that capability," said Colonel Cory Reid at the Peoria Air National Guard.

"They're deemed essential personnel," said Gene Olson, Director of Airports at the General Wayne A. Downing International Airport. "So the fire department guys are still here just like the air traffic control and the TSA staffers that are deemed to be essential personnel.

However, the fire department personnel, working at the Peoria Air National Guard are some of the few employees actually still being paid, since technically they work for the state.

But nearly all of the 300 plus employees at the Air National Guard are going without pay since their paycheck comes from the federal government.

"That's the way it is for every federal employee that's back at work right now across the country," said Robertson.

He said that can be tough on some employees living on a budget.

However until the government can pass an appropriation bill, federal workers deemed essential will continue working without pay.

"Makes life tough on them but as far as affecting our response, I don't believe that there was any negative effect on that," said Gene Olson.