778th CES Emergency Management: Staying ready, saving lives, reducing risks

  • Published
  • By Kisha Foster Johnson
  • Public Affairs

Preparing for threats, hazards and what-if scenarios keep the Airmen of the 778th Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management Flight at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, at the ready.

One of the most important tools at their disposal is the Installation Emergency Plan. The flight recently completed the yearly revision to the plan.  

The IEMP serves as a step-by-step guide, which outlines the roles and responsibilities of responding units in an emergency.

“We write the IEMP, which is a giant checklist for checklists,” said Cassandra White, 778th CES Emergency Management Flight chief. “Every year we go out and evaluate what elements on base we need to have a plan for, such as an active shooter incident or if an aircraft crashes.”

The evaluation phase is called the All Hazards Threat Assessment. This month-long process is a base-wide team effort with various units gathering data. Once that information is collected, the analysis begins.  

“We ask questions like is this right? Do we need to add any additional information? What needs to be changed?,” said White. “After we get feedback, updates are made and a final draft is given to the installation commander to sign off on.”

The IEMP is an ever-changing manual as emergency response evolves.

According to White, in 2019 a new section was added to address tropical storm emergencies following Hurricane Michael the prior year. The Category 5 storm hit the Florida Panhandle and caused catastrophic damage to Tyndall Air Force Base.

Concerned the remnants of the hurricane could impact Robins, White said the base was shut down.

On October 10, 2018, only essential personnel reported for work. In the aftermath, toppled trees from high winds caused minor damages to some buildings.

“Robins has served as an evacuation point for bases in Florida for many years,” said White. “However, that storm made us realize we need to have a checklist for hurricanes, and now we do.”

Another area of preparation for the flight is Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear defense exercises.

778th CES trains 5,000 deployable Airmen and civilians on base. The three hour CBRN class is required every 18 months.

“With the way missions change, it is now more important than ever to have a good understanding of how to wear the protective posture gear,” said Senior Airman Jameson Tate, 778th CES Emergency Management Training journeyman. “Knowing exactly what actions to take or not after a chemical attack can potentially save your life.”

The CBRN classes are held every Wednesday with 60 Airmen participating each session. The first half of the class is instruction-based and concludes with hands-on learning.

“We work with just about everybody on base to not only accomplish our mission, but help them accomplish theirs,” said White.

And even though she described the job as overwhelming at times, that does not overshadow her excitement of waiting for the unknown.

“This is a really fun career field. It is so dynamic and diverse in what we touch every day,” said White.

It is always on her mind though, that this could be the day the IEMP comes into play.

“We are ready,” she said.