HomeNewsArticle Display

Ready, Willing and Able: Robins Readiness Flight prepares installation for the worst case scenario, mission success

Senior Airman Chris Butler, a Readiness Flight readiness logistics journeyman, tapes loose edges of an anti-C (radiation suit) worn by Senior Airman Nick Pompa to minimize skin exposure. U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp.

Senior Airman Chris Butler, a Readiness Flight readiness logistics journeyman, tapes loose edges of an anti-C (radiation suit) worn by Senior Airman Nick Pompa to minimize skin exposure. U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp.

Airman 1st Class Brandon Madden, readiness apprentice in the Readiness Flight training section, teaches a class on proper procedures to follow. U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp.

Airman 1st Class Brandon Madden, readiness apprentice in the Readiness Flight training section, teaches a class on proper procedures to follow. U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp.

Senior Airman Chris Butler places a substance on a HazMat ID to identify it. The walking lab can identify substances to a percentage of certainty. U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp.

Senior Airman Chris Butler places a substance on a HazMat ID to identify it. The walking lab can identify substances to a percentage of certainty. U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp.

Robins Air Force Base, Ga. -- For many Robins Team members, the Readiness Flight is synonymous with CBRNE training, or chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives training, where more than 4,400 team members were trained last year. But according to members of the flight, there is a lot more to their mission than meets the eye.

One of the unusual things about the mission of Robins Readiness Flight is the small flight is responsible for programs that affect the entire installation.

"If there was to be a disaster on base, we are one of the focal points for the disaster control," said 2nd Lt. Robert Bouffard, readiness flight officer. "If that disaster happens we are going to be ready for it with plans, procedures and checklists."

The readiness staff is involved with every aspect of disaster preparedness, such as operating the Emergency Operations Center or Disaster Control Group during exercises, testing unidentified substances for contamination and making sure all deployable team members are trained in nuclear, biological and chemical defense.

"When we do set up and operate the DCG, it is interesting to see everyone pull together and do what needs to happen," said Senior Airman Melissa Dunn, a readiness journeyman.

The team develops the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, which is a written plan explaining how Robins would react during a natural disaster, major incident or terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction, said Sgt. Mark Martinez, superintendent of the readiness flight.

The readiness flight's mission is so unusual the readiness career field was presented with its own occupational badge Oct. 1, 2006 by Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force Chief of Staff to help them be more identifiable.

The readiness logistics section is responsible for maintaining all government vehicles and the Mobile Emergency Operations Center or Mobile Command Post.

"We maintain it and run the generators to make sure when we go out there and crank it up, it is ready to go," said Senior Airmen Chris Butler, readiness logistics journeyman.

The logistics section is also responsible for weapons of mass destruction equipment including maintaining, testing and utilizing chemical detectors, chemical agent monitors and radiation detectors, Airman Butler said.

Some of the detectors are attached to a siren and strobe light so if they detect harmful levels of contaminants, such as radiation and chemical agents, those in the area will be warned even if it is a high-noise level area like a flightline.

The logistics section is also responsible for maintaining all of the 78th Civil Engineering equipment needed for deployments including body armor such as helmets and bulletproof vests.

The logistics Airmen also handle and store all CE weapons making sure they are ready for deployments and exercises, said Senior Airman Nick Pompa, readiness logistics apprentice.

"We are one of the few organizations on base that maintains our own weapons," Airmen Pompa said. "We have (numerous) weapons in our armory and it is connected to security forces by an alarm system."

Though for many, the readiness flight is known only as those responsible for their unpleasant trip through the gas chamber.

Readiness journeymen Senior Airman Kevin Phillips and Senior Airman Melissa Dunn agreed the trip through the gas chamber is necessary, because it allows Airmen to see the difference between being protected from the influences of the gases and being exposed to the gases.

"We tell them if you are not feeling the effects it's because your equipment works. Then we make them line up and we stop each individual one by one and get them to take their mask off," said Airman Phillips.

"We ask them a question to make sure they are breathing and to make sure they feel the effects," Airman Dunn said.

The pair said the lesson of exposure helps everyone understand the importance of wearing their gear correctly. The gear required for NBC training is a suit, gloves, chemical protective over garment, boots and mask.

"The mask is your essential gear, what you survive on. Air goes into the canister and gets filtered and then you are able to breathe clean air," Airman Phillips said.

Both Airmen agreed the main objective it to make sure Airmen leave understanding what is necessary to survive during chemical and biological attacks.

However, before instructors can train, training has to be scheduled and individuals who need training have to be located and those who complete training have to have their records updated in the training database, said Airmen First Class Brandon Madden, readiness apprentice in the training section of the flight.

The flight is also responsible for keeping the Robins community prepared and informed for any natural disasters or other emergencies.

"We help educate the population on base about what to do when a disaster happens on base," said David Warren, a disaster preparedness specialists and deputy flight chief.

Mr. Warren said the flight maintains an emergency management Web site and publishes an Emergency Management Information Program newsletter. You can visit their secure Web site at https://wwwmil.robins.af.mil/ceg/778CES/cex.asp.