WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
An emergency, by nature, is unpredictable. A poor response can be detrimental to the mission and place several lives at risk. Luckily for the 509th Bomb Wing, there is one team who make preparing for the unknown their specialty.
The 509th Civil Engineers Squadron emergency management team are specifically trained for response and recovery operations to meet mission needs and, in the case of an emergency, to minimize casualties and damage.
“Our responsibilities include creating all emergency plans and procedures for the wing, ensuring all training for the wing that pertains to emergency response and recovery,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Austin Flues, 509th CES readiness and emergency management flight commander. “I also have to ensure and facilitate the training of my Airmen, so they can maintain their responder certifications and adequately manage the Emergency Operations Center.”
The nine-person 509th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management team is accountable for every emergency response plan on the entire installation. Recently, with the onset of the COVID-19 virus, they have gained the most attention for coordinating and developing the wing’s Medical Disease Containment Plan.
Navigating the challenges of COVID-19 is a new feat for experts across all Air Force career fields. Still, emergency management provides the necessary guidance and support for mission success, not only for the 509th Bomb Wing but for all tenant units.
“To help protect Airmen across the base from transmitting the COVID-19 virus, we worked with a local distillery and get 500 gallons of hand sanitizer,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt Michael Furch, 509th CES NCO in charge of plans and operations. “We also received 110 gallons of 12.5% bleach, which can be diluted down for decontamination across the base.”
In addition to providing valuable information, supplies, and training to base leaders and Airmen, the emergency managers also act as a bridge between Whiteman and local agencies.
“We are the liaison between the county emergency management and WAFB,” Flues said. “We maintain weekly contact with Johnson County EM to ensure our efforts on base, are in line with our local community partners and that we support them in any way that we can.”
While small yet mighty, the emergency management team at Whiteman AFB serves an essential function that proves no matter the circumstances, mission success is achievable.