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WPAFB: Emergency response tested during base-wide exercise

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 9:02 AM
By: Will Huntington - 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base personnel once again tested their emergency response procedures last week during 2017’s final, quarterly base-wide exercise.

Activities ranged in scope from a family assistance exercise, to a pandemic response, to an air piracy event. As with most exercises, automated external defibrillator, or AED, usage was also evaluated.

Across the base on the morning of Oct. 30, there seemed to be little outward appearance that an exercise was underway, but representatives from several installation organizations converged on the Wright-Patterson Club where a temporary Emergency Family Assistance Center, or EFAC, was being activated.

An EFAC is typically activated in conjunction with an emergency management incident and when needs are beyond the capability of the agencies primarily tasked to respond to a crisis. Following events such as an active shooter or a tornado strike, the EFAC becomes the focal point where family members of those affected by the incident can get assistance and information. The core staff includes representatives from the Chapel, Mental Health, Finance, Legal, Public Affairs, Logistics Readiness and 88th Force Support Squadron, including both Military and Civilian Personnel, and Family Services Flight.

Besides responding to a variety of exercise inputs, this particular event also provided an opportunity for the EFAC representatives to interface and work on becoming more effective in their roles in advance of a real-world event.

On Oct. 31, the most intense exercise event of the week happened within the walls of the Crisis Action Team facility. It was here that representatives of offices whose primary responsibility for carrying out the provisions of the installation Disease Containment Plan, or DCP, met in a robust “table-top” plan review. Using a scenario where a global influenza pandemic has impacted Wright-Patterson, participants were evaluated on their responses to a variety of disease and process-related topics.

At the conclusion of the four-hour, table-top exercise, participants were asked to provide their own perspectives of the team’s ability to effectively follow the DCP’s requirements and provisions. Proposals and inputs will be used to make improvements in the base’s ability to react to any possible future pandemic.

The next day, the base’s Air Piracy plan was implemented and emergency response personnel from 88th Security Forces and the base Fire Department were dispatched following an exercise notification that a hijacked aircraft was heading to Wright-Patterson. As part of the response, the base’s Anti-Hijacking Control Center was activated and representatives converged to meet the possible needs brought on by the hijacking.

During the balance of the week, smaller exercise events, such as a facility lockdown in response to a “disgruntled” employee, shelter-in-place actions and automated external defibrillator responses, played out at a variety of base locations.

Wing Inspection Team members evaluated each event and, by the end of the week, built a record of those evaluations that will go into a report to indicate what areas went well and which might need refinement.

“This fourth quarter exercise culminates a full year of challenging base members to prepare for potential emergencies, whether natural or ‘man made,’” said Carmen Riches, chief, WPAFB Exercises. “Our goal is to ensure they think ahead on how they’ll react during the crisis. This enables a much quicker response, thus saving lives.”

The next quarterly base-wide exercise is scheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 2.