Partnerships with community help keep base viable

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
It's been nearly a year since efforts began to explore 'P4' initiatives - public-public and public-private partnerships between Robins Air Force Base and local communities and private entities.

Robins was one of 16 test bases in fiscal 2013 participating in the Air Force Community Partnership Initiative, created to explore cost-saving opportunities through partnerships and shared services.

"Robins is definitely leading this effort," said Col. Patricia Ross, 78th Air Base Wing vice commander, to a Jan. 16 audience of the Robins Partnership Executive Council, comprised of base and community leaders.

During the group's last meeting, Ross said Robins was the second active duty base to complete this process of planning, identifying and actively engaging in opportunities for partnerships.

"The bottom line is we're going to have to do things smarter and partner with the community around us to stay viable as an Air Force installation," she said.

While there have been previous existing partnerships including emergency response capabilities with fire, law enforcement and emergency services, the initiative has since expanded over the past 11 months.

New ideas in the beginning stages include potential public works and maintenance activities with Houston County for emergency support.

Joint use of the Robins airfield is also being looked at. Outside interest has been expressed in using one of Georgia's longest runway; however; there are several concerns that must be addressed.

Updates on partnerships currently being worked include:

The library at Robins has partnered with the Houston County Public Library System by now offering PINES, the Public Information Network for Electronic Services. This will allow Robins' users access to resources such as books and other materials among a shared state-wide collection. There is also discussion on expanding the library's partnership to include offering an annex library service at Robins, according to Michael Szymanski, 78th Force Support Squadron director.

Aero Club: Partnering with colleges and expanding Robins market by offering opportunities for community members to learn how to fly and fly at Robins.

Law enforcement: A previous initiative which included sharing police firing ranges on and off base with community police agencies has been expanded with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center's capabilities in Forsyth. A 'Train the Trainer' program with GPSTC instructors has been discussed to allow them to train 78th Security Forces Squadron members on the use of handheld and vehicle radars. Since certifications must continually be met, by bringing in these trainers, it will expand the force's ability to stay current or train on new law enforcement tools. Another phase includes adding specialized training with GPSTC.

Continuing medical education: The 78th Medical Group maintains a network of about 450 providers in a 40-mile area that provides the base with specialty care and support. There is discussion to partner with community health systems and medical schools so 78th MDG providers can train and maintain their licenses locally rather than send members on temporary travel elsewhere. A medical provider event was offered on base last fall to initiate offering CME credit; a dental conference will also be hosted here in February.

Work study program: On Jan. 13, there were 17 students from several local colleges who were placed across Robins utilizing their majors to give them real-life work experience.

There are more than a dozen Air Force bases that will join the partnership initiative in fiscal 2014, including Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.