Emergency Management ensures Air Force maintains optimum readiness

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

When planning for an emergency, coordination is important. These types of situations take many forms. Be it a hurricane or weapons system discovered nearby, each situation requires everyone affected to be equally prepared.

The Air Force, as well as the Department of Defense, never hesitates at the importance of emergency management. As a result, there is a career field solely dedicated to minimizing any damage caused during an emergency.

“As Emergency Management, we are charged with ensuring Air Force assets, including Airmen, remain safe during a natural or man-made disaster,” said Tech. Sgt. Frederick Gilmore, the Readiness and Emergency Management flight chief assigned to the 6th Civil Engineer Squadron. “We also provide information to base leadership during an emergency, as well as educate others on how to stay prepared.”

With hurricane season in full-swing at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Airmen like Gilmore are constantly reviewing information gathered by weather specialists, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other emergency management offices in the Tampa Bay area.

The information they gather goes into developing a plan to mitigate damage if such a weather-related emergency arises.

“There are a lot of ‘what ifs?’ in our job,” said Vincent Anderson, an Emergency Management technician assigned to the 6th CES. “But we strive to educate everyone on MacDill about the precautions and processes they should take during a weather emergency.”

Such processes include creating a hurricane kit, packed with vital items and first aid. Another example is creating a plan, in the event family members are not home, to identify where everyone should meet, as well as an evacuation route if necessary.

However, emergency management doesn’t end with weather preparedness; they are also the subject matter experts for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense.

“A big part of deployment preparation is attending a refresher course on CBRN operations,” said Gilmore. “We try to make alarm conditions and donning mission oriented protective posture gear become muscle memory, so that service members can confidently protect themselves in a CBRN scenario.

“It’s imperative that these processes stay with them during a stressful event.”

Emergency management’s occupational badge is based on an insignia adopted by the U.S. Army Chemical Service in 1917. The badge features two crossed retorts, glass laboratory vessels, placed behind a benzene ring, which is a molecular building block of many organic chemicals. Its design showcases the career field’s expertise in chemical-related jobs and CBRN defense. Technicians earn a civil engineer badge to wear as well.

“We’re trained to handle any chemical emergency,” said Gilmore. “We can employ multiple tools to identify the substance to help protect others from contamination.”

Another mission that emergency management contributes to is the Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force, aptly known as Prime BEEF.

“Basically, Prime BEEF is a workforce of multiple jobs in civil engineering who can rapidly deploy and handle all the engineering needs,” said Gilmore. “It consists of jobs like plumbers, electricians and structural troops who can ensure a new forward operating base is safe to use.

Gilmore mentioned that although emergency management is a relatively small career field, the impact far surpasses how many technicians currently serve.

“Preparation, prevention, response and recovery are the four pillars to emergency management,” said Anderson. “Each one requires a wealth of information, and it’s up to us to disseminate that information to everyone who should know what to do when an emergency occurs, including senior leadership.”

With two occupational badges, the Airmen in emergency management wear many hats to help keep Air Force assets safe. From hazardous material suits to gas masks, they are constantly reviewing the “what ifs” of any situation that could happen.

For more information on emergency preparedness and other resources, visit www.beready.af.mil.