Beacon of light, 104th Fighter Wing Emergency Management

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey
  • 104th Fighter Wing

Emergency responses are anything but routine. However, with the prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation actions, the Emergency Management office is the guiding light for the Emergency Operations Center in crisis response procedures at the 104th Fighter Wing. 

“Our focus is on readiness and providing emergency services during this COVID-19 response,” said Karen Watts, Emergency Management and Emergency Operations Center Manager. “Safety of our people is at the forefront to be able to carry out the mission. We are focused on keeping contaminated personnel low and identifying personal protection gear at this time.”

The Emergency Management team is ensuring the base personnel has enough personal protection supplies for the next couple of months. Emergency Management creates and maintains base plans and is critical in mission readiness.

 “We are ensuring cross-contamination points are supplied, and awareness of these areas are being looked at for the personnel—for instance, Security Forces vehicles in between shifts,” said Watts. “The cross points of mission locations, inventory of disinfecting supplies are examples of what we are ensuring is being looked at for readiness.”

Our focus is on keeping those areas safe and being proactive in taking care of people and making sure people have what they need.

Emergency Management works closely with not only units on base but with other military units and emergency preparedness interagency partners such as the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

“Within our flight and with other units, we have great team dynamics, and this is a plus when it comes to responding to national emergencies,” said Staff Sgt. Tran Thinh. “Joint exercises with other unit partners such as Bradley Air National Guard Emergency Management in Connecticut and Westover Air Reserve Base here in Massachusetts, prepare us with effective response coordination. We come together, compare, and implement best practices to serve on the front line of emergencies. Together as a team, we train on emergency preparedness.”

“The coordination and synchronization of our Emergency Management teams are critical for the Emergency Operations Center to respond,” said Watts.

The Emergency Operation Center is where the subject matter experts, such as public health, prepare for known or unknown events and gather in the event of an emergency to exchange information and make decisions.

As overwhelming as this may be, excellent operational plans are coming out of this real-world unknown environment, said Watts. Plans and procedures will only improve from this experience.

The Emergency Management team not only sees the big picture of emergency operations, they also pay close attention to the details.

“We continually ask ourselves how we can keep this as easy as possible for our users to comply with requirements and deconflict tasks,” said Watts. “Staff Sgt. Thinh is creating guides, and we are very thankful we have him here.”

Thinh has served in the Air Force and the Air National Guard for a total of nine years and came to the 104th Fighter Wing from active duty Air Force. He is currently a mechanical engineer student at the University of Connecticut.