Emergency Management: ready for anything

United States Air Force first lieutenant Austin Flues assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing Emergency Management Flight, as the readiness and emergency management flight commander, makes updates to a chart tracking COVID-19 virus data across Missouri.  Emergency management personnel operate out of the Emergency Operations Center when activated, to execute the Installation Emergency Response Plan which includes specific medical disease containment procedures and instructions.

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Austin Flues, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing Emergency Management Flight, as the readiness and emergency management flight commander, makes updates to a chart tracking COVID-19 virus data across Missouri. Emergency management personnel operate out of the Emergency Operations Center when activated, to execute the Installation Emergency Response Plan which includes specific medical disease containment procedures and instructions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Adkins)

Signs in the 509th Bomb Wing Emergency Management work center display the Career Field Occupational Badge history and National Weather Service 'Storm Ready' information.  The badge symbols and adverse weather sign show the range of different Emergency Management responsibilities.

Signs in the 509th Bomb Wing Emergency Management work center display the Career Field Occupational Badge history and National Weather Service 'Storm Ready' information. The badge symbols and adverse weather sign show the range of different Emergency Management responsibilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Adkins)

Staff Sergeant Kenneth Baker, assigned to the 509th Emergency Management Flight, assistant Non-commissioned Officer in charge of logistics, and Airman 1st Class Cassidy Knight, assigned to the Emergency Management Flight, plans and operations stand in front of the Emergency Management Mobile Communications Center, used during emergency situations in remote locations or in the event of damaged infrastructure.  Emergency management personnel operate out of the Emergency Operations Center when activated, to execute Installation Emergency Response Plan, which includes specific medical disease containment procedures and instructions.

Staff Sgt. Kenneth Baker, assigned to the 509th Emergency Management Flight, assistant NCO in charge of logistics, and Airman 1st Class Cassidy Knight, assigned to the Emergency Management Flight, plans and operations stand in front of the Emergency Management Mobile Communications Center, used during emergency situations in remote locations or in the event of damaged infrastructure. Emergency management personnel operate out of the Emergency Operations Center when activated, to execute Installation Emergency Response Plan, which includes specific medical disease containment procedures and instructions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Adkins)

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.