Emergency Management helps wing prepare for upcoming ORI

GOWEN FIELD, Boise, Idaho -- The crack of an explosion sends shock waves down the taxiway. A plume of black smoke rises from behind a nearby bunker. Airmen bolt for shelter as smoke dissipates into the hot August sky. Within seconds radios crackle and phones chatter as reports of the incident stream into the 124th Emergency Management Flight and Emergency Operations Center.

At the receiving end, Emergency Management jumps into action by compiling the individual reports into one detailed account and mapping the area impacted by the threat. They use this detailed information, in conjunction with the EOC, to advise the commander so that he can make life-saving, asset-protecting decisions in real time.

In this scenario, like many that occurred at our recent Operational Readiness Exercise in early August, assets and lives were protected with an Alarm Red attack warning signal. The threat was identified and eliminated when the Post Attack Reconnaissance teams were deployed.

The streamlined communication between the EOC, Emergency Management, and the commander was critical for quick incident response, just as it would be in a combat situation.

One tool that Emergency Management has developed to track and manage real-time incident information is the Virtual Operations Center. It was put into use just five months ago as an information database to track and manage incident information. Personnel from critical areas like the Emergency Operations Center and Unit Command and Control can view and update the real-time incident information. The database can accept a variety of inputs which provides flexibility with maximum reporting and documentation capabilities. The flexibility and ease of access are just a few of its many benefits.

"The reports can be detailed as we choose," said Airman 1st Class Michael Ward, Emergency Management journeyman. "It frees up the communication lines and creates a real-time record of every incident."

Most well known for the Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosives hands-on training, Emergency Management is responsible for all base defense. They manage, prepare for, respond to and recover from the direct and indirect consequences of CBRNE and conventional weapon attacks, major accidents, and even natural disasters.

Another one of their primary tools is the threat detection grid, which is a map of a base with an overlaid grid of coordinates used to report and map out any incidents that occur on base and the anticipated area of impact. If a report of chemical or biological contamination were reported Emergency Management would plot the threat and plume on the standoff threat detection grid. The plume shows how the contamination will spread. It is calculated either manually or with the Joint Warning and Reporting Network software using real-time weather data.

"For an exercise we plan a threat detecting grid on a map of Base X. In the real world we do the same thing," said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Sawmiller.

Long before an ORE starts, Emergency Management trains the post attack reconnaissance teams, Unit Control Center, and Emergency Operations Center personnel. Emergency Management will be ramping up their training for these sections for the next ORE and Operational Readiness Inspection in October 2011.

"For the upcoming ORI we will be planning base response and developing post attack checklists that make response and reporting fool-proof," Airman Ward said. "We will be doing threat detection training that will teach people how to follow specific routs and use the threat detection grid to report incidents."

Emergency Management's expertise passed down to the men and women of the 124th Fighter Wing through regular training will help ensure another successful ORI.