Emergency management steals typhoon season's thunder
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE -- As typhoon season approaches the Mariana Islands, the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management Flight is taking steps to educate and prepare as much of the base populace about typhoons as possible.
The flight's mission is to lead base preparation, response and recovery from all types of hazards, disasters and catastrophes.
"Our first priority is to educate newcomers through the Right Start and First Term Airmen Center briefings," said Staff Sgt. Adam Hills, 36th CES Emergency Management Flight training and education NCO in charge. "Secondly, we conduct multiple base theater briefings tailored for our joint-service partners, retirees, civilians and military families and dependents. Lastly, we have been conducting typhoon awareness briefings to the middle school students on base, providing handout information to bring back to their homes and parents."
The flight's responsibility does not end with information. If a typhoon hits the island, they spearhead the recovery process, working with the base populace in re-establishing operations.
"The recovery process following a typhoon is completely unpredictable," Hills said. "As emergency managers, our focus is coordinating a combined restoration effort to bring the critical infrastructure to its status prior to the typhoon. We work with several agencies to ensure a detailed damage assessment is conducted, allowing us to prioritize and enabling us to project short-term and long-term impacts to the mission."
The flight also works with off-base agencies, such as the Government of Guam and Department of Homeland Security, to coordinate information and ensure recovery efforts are not redundant or wasted.
"Communicating and coordinating with many agencies, especially during a crisis situation, can be challenging," Hills said. "The key to an emergency response operation is communication. We are encouraging all stakeholders to develop common operating communication procedures that include standardized verbiage so we can easily coordinate our efforts."
From typhoons to manmade disasters, emergency management Airmen stress the importance of preparedness and cooperation when it comes to the successful mitigation of damages or loss when such circumstances occur.
"Preparedness is vital to survival," Hills said. "Without each individual having a plan, emergency management practices are destined to fail when we need them the most. The occurrence of typhoons and major accidents is not a question of 'if;' it's rather a question of 'when' it will happen. The only thing we can truly control in our lives is how prepared we are."
For more information on typhoon season and preparation tips, contact the emergency management flight at 366-3113.