Exercise helps airmen prepare for emergency

By Capt. Mae-Li Allison, 27th SOW Public Affairs

Representatives from the 27th Special Operations Wing and local community functional areas with emergency management responsibilities met here May 28-29 to discuss how they would respond to natural and man-made disasters.

Designated All Hazards Response Training, the “tabletop exercise” encouraged discussion about how Cannon AFB and the cities of Clovis and Portales would respond to two separate events: a terrorist’s use of high explosives combined with a release of a chemical agent at Cannon, as well as a pandemic influenza outbreak.

Two major lessons learned from the exercise included the need for effective, efficient communication within and between all agencies involved and the communities, as well as individual and family preparedness.

“This training was important because it provided the Emergency Operations Center, First Responders, and other key base personnel a unique opportunity to exercise with local response agencies during a simulated base emergency,” said the 27th Special Operations Wing Inspector General, Lt. Col. Ivette O’Brien. “It also provided a forum for all these agencies to exercise their current response checklists and plans, and update them based on lessons learned.”

The 27th SOW/IG Individual Mobilization Augmentee, Maj. Vicky Johnson, added that the training gave valuable insight as to what means and radio frequencies people use to communicate and gave participants a chance to see how the whole system operates.

According to O’Brien, the base is required to perform an emergency management type of exercise at least once a quarter and must work with local community agencies at least once a year.

The AHRT was led by several representatives from L3 Communications, a defense contractor who planned the scenario and led the exercise.

O’Brien said the medical community conducted similar exercises in the past, but only recently has the Air Force required other base and civilian agencies to participate.

One important lesson learned during the pandemic influenza outbreak simulation was that individual preparedness is the key to potentially stifling the spread of a contagious disease like the flu.

“A regional disaster like pandemic influenza will affect everyone inside and outside the military gates,” said Maj. Ken Mershon, the 27 SOW