Emergency management: training for the worst, hoping for the best

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Victor J. Caputo
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
When a civil engineer squadron is mentioned, many people conjure up pictures of hard hats, digging equipment and structural maintenance, whereas an Airman donning a hazardous material suit might seem more fitting elsewhere.

The 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management flight has Airmen who actually use hazmat suits, but their primary mission is to ensure that everyone on base is ready for any emergency.

"We prepare the base on how to respond to every kind of major accident or disaster," said Master Sgt. Thomas Cyphers, 22nd CES readiness and emergency management flight superintendent.

The flight is composed of four different sections: training, logistics, plans and operations, and Prime BEEF.

One of the more commonly known functions of EM is the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives training they provide.

"We teach the class once a week and sometimes short notice for last-minute deployers," said Tech. Sgt. Gavin Christiansen, 22nd CES readiness and emergency management training NCO in charge. "We do a lot of coordination with other agencies around base to make sure everyone is ready to go."

The Prime BEEF section is composed of the 22nd CES unit deployment managers. Their mission is to coordinate the readiness of the civil engineer Airmen to deploy short notice with the correct training and tools, said Cyphers

The logistics section watches over and checks all of the equipment that the flight uses.

"My main role is to ensure we are 100 percent response ready," said Airman 1st Class Cody Ray, 22nd CES readiness and emergency management journeyman.

Ray's position requires documenting the flight's equipment and making sure it works properly. These items can range from hazmat suits to communications equipment to wireless networks.

The plans and operations section is responsible for communicating with various agencies around base. They help with training, signing individuals and units off on tasks, and working with unit commanders to provide an active program for the wing.

"They interact almost daily with almost every unit on base, said 1st Lt. Ben Shafer, 22nd CES readiness and emergency management flight chief. "They check to see if your unit's program is where it needs to be, so if something were to happen to the base, you could help out."

The flight has so many different roles and responsibilities that networking has become a huge aspect of the job.

"An interesting thing about this career field is that it's down at a unit level but has base-wide ramifications," said Shafer. "They network with every unit on base, to include the 931st [Air Refueling Group] and the 184th [Intelligence Wing]."

The networking that this job requires may not seem enticing to some people, but here at McConnell, at least one readiness and emergency management Airman is enthusiastic about getting to meet new Airmen.

"I'm a huge people-person," said Ray. "No matter what section you're in, you have to go around base and meet people and learn how to work with them. I really like having to talk with them and it's one of my favorite parts of the job."

Out of all the flights in the 22nd CES, emergency management might not be the most well known or understood, but their job is no less important.

From the shelter-in-place kits located in every building to the training an Airman receives before a deployment, a readiness and emergency management Airman was there to make sure everything was ready.