Emergency Management; prepping for the worst, hoping for the best.
By Airman 1st Class Tiffany Price, 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 02, 2021
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Preparing for the worst doesn’t always mean a stockpile of canned foods and water bottles. Though those are important during hurricane season, the 325th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management flight is prepared for any unforeseen circumstance.
“The mission of the Air Force emergency management program is to save lives, minimize the loss of resources and sustain and restore operational capabilities to continue the mission,” said Airman 1st Class Hallie Dickens, 325th CES emergency manager.
Dickens explained emergency managers support Tyndall Air Force Base, Air Combat Command and the U.S. Air Force by providing commanders with a mission ready force.
“You have to train your brain to think of details you’ve never considered before,” said Dickens. “We are responsible for making plans for anything that could happen. Pulling what-ifs out of thin air is very hard for me, but the tiny miniscule details are important, because every tiny detail could mean the difference between life and death.”
While every Air Force base has an emergency management flight, the duties are never exactly the same. Dickens stated that even though each emergency manager has the same basic skillset, the threat and mission of each installation will always be different.
“There is no typical emergency management career,” said Dickens. “Some threats are ambiguous, but for the most part they change with each installation.”
One of emergency management’s top priorities at Tyndall is preparing Airmen for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear defense.
“We are CBRN subject matter experts,” said Dickens. “We train and prepare other Airmen for CBRN Hazards, as well as conduct hazard identification and plume modeling of CBRN hazard release. With that information, we can advise the emergency operations center and the crisis action team on steps that need to be taken during an emergency situation.”
The EOC and CAT are constructed of a select group of people from different agencies around an installation. Each person is tasked to meet when an emergency occurs in order to decide the best plan of action for moving forward during a crisis situation. Dickens compared being an emergency manager during a crisis to working backstage during a play.
“Nobody can see you, but you are moving the stage around and putting the pieces where they need to go,” said Dickens. “That’s the bottom line of what we do in the EOC, we make sure all of the players are where they need to be when they need to be there.”
Understanding the needs of each individual installation and how to manage possible threats can be one of the most difficult parts of the job, however, Dickens stated that she would not trade her emergency management career for anything else.