‘Be Ready’ during hurricane season, always

  • Published
  • By Mark Kinkade
  • Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs

With hurricane season underway, the Air Force’s emergency management team is reminding people that disasters can happen anywhere, anytime. Their advice?

“Be ready,” said Robert Genova, the Air Force Emergency Management Operations Support section manager with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. “In the past 12 months, we’ve seen that disasters and other emergencies are unpredictable. The best thing Airmen can do is take simple precautions to protect themselves and their families if something happens.”

Although June marks the beginning of hurricane season, the emergency management team knows first-hand that emergencies don’t have off-seasons. Hurricane Michael devastated Tyndall Air Force Base in October 2018, causing an estimated $4 billion in damages and forcing the entire base population to evacuate.

The Air Force also experienced other large-scale emergencies, including massive flooding that caused damage to facilities at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska; an earthquake that hit Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; and tornadoes that recently struck Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

“In all these situations, damage was extensive,” Genova said, “but injuries were minimal and no one associated with the Air Force died as a result of the disaster. Being prepared and knowing what to do in these critical moments has a huge impact on the outcome and makes the crisis more manageable.”

To help Airmen prepare for emergencies, the Air Force launched the “Be Ready” awareness campaign in 2012. The campaign emphasizes three key things Air Force families can do to prepare for potential emergencies:

  • Get a kit: assemble a collection of first aid supplies, food, water, medicine and important papers to get through the emergency
  • Make a plan: know how to stay in touch with family, where to go for safety, and how to reunite
  • Be prepared: anticipate emergencies that likely could occur.

Genova said that Tyndall’s experience with Hurricane Michael demonstrated the effectiveness of the preparation strategy.

“Fortunately, we had some warning that the hurricane was coming,” he said. “Leadership ordered an evacuation and people were prepared. Many had kits, and they had planned where they were going to go. Michael destroyed a majority of the base, but our people were safe.”

While some threats are seasonal, such as hurricanes, there are many other natural, man-made and technological hazards that can occur without notice, said Kathryn Moses, a mission assurance and communications specialist with the Emergency Management team.

“The ‘Be Ready’ campaign provides an abundance of pertinent information for coping with multiple different types of emergencies as they are happening, as well as what to expect afterwards,” she said. Hazards and threats covered range from droughts, floods, wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes and typhoons; thunderstorms and lighting, tornadoes, extreme heat or cold and volcanoes to active shooters, terrorism, hazardous material incidents, home fires, power outages and nuclear power plants.

In 2017, AFCEC’s Emergency Management Division updated the “Be Ready” mobile application to compliment the revised Air Force Emergency Preparedness Guide. The app offers the user (military, civilians, contractors and family members) key resources and personalized selections needed for an emergency, including a list of all hazard/threat information, checklists, links to useful website and tools to build emergency plans. The app is available for download from the app stores for Android and Apple.

Moses said, “Emergencies that have impacted the Air Force recently are reminders,” Moses said.  “While disasters are unpredictable, preparation is something everyone can do to ‘be ready.’

“Preparation is a constant process,” she added. “We know it works because while the Air Force has had a lot of natural emergencies in the past year, people were able to stay safe. They were able to protect themselves and their families. We believe that’s because they were prepared. They were ready.”

The Air Force hosts emergency preparedness information on the Be Ready page at https://www.beready.af.mil/. Installation emergency management offices also have additional information.