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CE officials implore preparedness

The Air Force is encouraging Airmen and their families to focus on emergency planning in September as part of National Preparedness Month. This year’s theme is “Don’t wait. Communicate. Make your emergency plan today.” (Courtesy graphic)

The Air Force is encouraging Airmen and their families to focus on emergency planning in September as part of National Preparedness Month. This year’s theme is “Don’t wait. Communicate. Make your emergency plan today.” (Courtesy graphic)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- September is National Preparedness Month and Pease emergency managers are leading the way to ensure the base community is prepared to handle severe New England weather events year round.

With a theme of "Don't wait. Communicate. Make your emergency plan today," this year's focus is on emergency planning, to include development of evacuation plans and family communication plans in the event of separation.

"Preparedness is the shared responsibility of our entire nation," said Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work. "Preparing individuals, families, components and installations for disasters and emergencies -- from flooding to an active shooter -- ensures the strength of our workforce and our ability to continue to safeguard U.S. security."

Pease civil engineering officials highlight last year's severe weather as the need to prepare for all emergencies.

"As we saw last winter with record breaking snowfall, disasters and emergencies come in many forms," said Chief Master Sgt. Keith Downs, 157th Civil Engineering Squadron installation emergency manager. "Our team would like to help bring a greater awareness to the theme of this year's National Preparedness Month campaign: 'Don't wait, communicate. Make your emergency plans today.'"

During the month, each week will be focused on planning for a specific hazard: flooding in week one, wildfires in week two, hurricanes in week three and power outages in week four. The month culminates in National PrepareAthon Day Sept. 30.

"We are fortunate here at Pease to have a very robust Unit Emergency Management program," said Downs. "The unit representatives are the conduit to the individual members of the wing."

In addition, Downs said, throughout the September unit training assembly, a hurricane preparedness video will play on a continuous loop on the base close circuit television. He also said that will be combined with a monthly 'Be Ready' newsflash sent to the unit emergency management representatives.

"On National PrepareAthon Day, Sept. 30, we want to see bases actually conducting an activity. It could be table top exercises, drills or a wide range of other activities," said James Martin, the emergency management education and training analyst in AFCEC's Readiness Directorate. 

"Due to scheduling, Pease Air National Guard Base will be participating early by conducting a catastrophic fuel release table top and field response exercise on Sept. 15 and 16," said Downs. "This training and exercise is being provided by EnSafe, Inc. and is a critical preparedness step led by the Environmental Office to ensure the installation is prepared to save lives, protect property and protect the environment."

To lessen the workload on base-level emergency management offices, emergency management experts at AFCEC put together a marketing guide with links to social media posts, graphics and techniques to disseminate information effectively throughout the month.

"The emphasis should be to increase the comprehensiveness of your campaign, engaging all members of your community and highlighting the importance of preparedness, not just during National Preparedness Month, but year round," said Harley Connors, the AFCEC emergency management division chief.

Air Force bases are encouraged to participate during National Preparedness Month and National PrepareAthon Day.
"It's important to have time set aside that focuses on preparedness because when people have the right information, they generally do the right thing when the real emergency happens," Martin said. "It literally translates into saving lives."

To learn more about 2015 National Preparedness Month, visit www.READY.gov/September.

(Editor's note: 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs contributed to this article)
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