CE ‘doomsday preppers’ help Moody ‘Be Ready’

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ceaira Tinsley
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
If the sky were to fall at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., it would be the 23d Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management flight's job to implement the plan to save the day.

With a job that requires hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, one EM Airman said, "people always joke and say that we're the doomsday preppers."

"Emergency management helps the installation prepare for, respond to [and] recover from all hazards," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Misty Cardwell, 23d CES NCO in charge of plans, operations and logistics. "We help the installation create response plans for any incidents that could happen at the installation or in the local area."

Although the name has changed over the years from the bunker program to disaster preparedness office the core responsibility of the job has remained the same: to protect Air Force people and assets. They develop response plans to keep everyone informed from the wing commander to every Airman on base.

"We write the installation emergency management plan which breaks down what everyone should be doing in the event of an incident," said Senior Airman Erin Johnson, 23d CES emergency management journeyman. "Our peacetime mission can be anything from [preparing] for aircraft crashes, natural disasters or terrorist attacks."

There is an EM representative in every unit on base and they work directly with the flight, said Johnson. The representatives keep all of their checklists updated and they are well-versed in the steps they need to take if an incident happens.

Cardwell stressed that although EM plans for almost anything, it doesn't substitute the need for everyone to have a survival kit, make a plan and be prepared.

"It is everybody's responsibility to be prepared for an emergency situation," said Cardwell. "We put up fliers and we have our emergency management program [for everyone because] it doesn't just affect the military personnel, but also the civilians and the dependents who live on the installation."

In line with the Air Force's 'train how we fight mentality,' rehearsing how to respond to an incident can eliminate many 'what ifs.'

"If you have a plan and you practice it, it's less stressful during the actual incident," said Cardwell. "Same with a natural disaster: If you have a plan for your home [that includes] how you're going to evacuate, where you're going to meet, who you're going to call when it really happens, it's like second nature."

The overall goal of EM is to keep the Air Force's personnel and other assets safe. One of the ways they do this is by establishing and running an emergency operations center (EOC) during a contingency.

"If there is a planned exercise on the base that involves us, one of the objectives is to activate the EOC so that we can see how it runs," said Johnson. "We also from time to time do no-notice EOC activations for our benefit to see where all of the [EOC] representatives are. [We evaluate] how long it takes them to show up, get the system up and running on their computers and get their checklist going.

"[Within the EOC] there is a representative from every unit on the base to coordinate a response," said Johnson. "If we need resources from Logistics Readiness Squadron, there's an LRS representative there who can make the phone call to get resources out to the scene."

Similar to the EOC, EM uses Emergency Support Functions to group together governmental and private sector capabilities into a common organizational structure. The ESF system helps communities recover from a contingency quicker because people understand the jobs of one another whether they are military or civilian.

"The basic function of the ESF is to serve as a liaison between the EOC and the on-scene incident commander," said Johnson. "The person sitting at an ESF is a subject-matter expert in their career field. For example, if buses are needed down-range, a call would be made to ESF 1 (LRS) that buses are needed, then ESF 1 will call the appropriate people to get buses down-range."

When EM Airmen aren't busy writing the base's emergency management plan or running the EOC, one of their day-to-day responsibilities is equipping Airmen with knowledge to keep them safe.

"Most people just think we teach CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) every day and that's all we do," said Johnson. "[But] to break it down, EM's wartime mission is predominately teaching deploying Airmen CBRN application and detection."

Every Tuesday EM teaches a CBRN class to Airmen. The class focuses on teaching Airmen what to look for when detecting chemical hazards. It also provides instruction on how to inspect and maintain proper protective gear such as the joint service lightweight integrated suit technology.

To further assist in keeping everyone safe and informed, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center produced the "Be Ready" mobile app as an on-the-go emergency preparation resource.

"It's a good app...and it's free," said Cardwell. "Anybody can use it. It's something our career field has created and is pushing for [because] it's a good asset for individuals to be familiar with what's going on in your area."