Midwest Airmen share emergency management know-how

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Andrea F. Liechti
  • 115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Six units from four states combined their emergency management skills during a field training exercise at Volk Field, April 2-6.

The 115th Fighter Wing, 133rd Air Wing, 148th Fighter Wing, 183rd Fighter Wing, 934th Air Wing and 127th Fighter Wing started planning for this year's field training exercise in November 2013.

"We started planning early to ensure we could all train together this year," said Senior Master Sgt. Kelvin McCuskey, 148th FW installation emergency manager. "The last time we were able to train together was in 2012."

The emergency management leaders from each unit used conference calls, Defense Connect Online and email to secure training dates and plan the week's training exercises.

"Volk is an ideal site for our training," McCuskey said. "We can stay here and get all of our required training accomplished without the distractions of being at our home unit."

The training encompassed all hazard responses including radiation, chemical and biological situations.

The 28 Airmen who attended the event practiced plotting hazard zones on a map manually and with a computer, trained on tactical communications systems using satellites to communicate with other bases across the country, and each day of the exercise one group of Airmen participated in up to three mission simulations during the field training exercises.

Master Sgt. Rebecca Tongen, 133rd AW installation emergency manager, developed the field training exercise and made sure it included real-world attributes.

Two firefighters from the 133rd AW acted as the incident commanders during the exercises, firefighters from Volk Field took vitals of the Airmen before and after they entered the hazardous exercise areas, and a power production Airman from the 133rd AW ensured all power sources were working properly for the emergency management teams.

"This training allows us to work with people we wouldn't normally work with," said Senior Airman Sara Passint, 133rd AW emergency management. "Our job is challenging and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so we can learn a lot from each other."

Passint was one of the first Airmen to enter the field exercise in her full chemical gear. She, along with two additional Airmen, secured samples from the exercise scene and safely transported them to a testing site during the field exercise.

"It's definitely not an easy job," she said. "We carry a lot of equipment and there are lots of stops and processes to go over during every situation."

Even though it is hard work, Passint contends it is worth it.

"Trainings like this prepare us for all different hazards," she said. "They prepare us for the unknown."

The results from the training will be documented and the status of resources and training system updates will be sent up to the National Guard Bureau for review.

According to McCuskey, training similar to this must be completed on a yearly basis.

"By training together, we save the government money, and have a chance to network and learn from each other," he said. "It's an ideal situation."