REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama— During September’s National Preparedness Month, Army installations across the globe recognize the importance of disaster preparedness by emphasizing the need for Soldiers and civilians to be familiar with the Emergency Management Plans developed to ensure safety in the workplace.
In 2011, the five-phase Emergency Management Plan was realigned under the Protection Program, an Army initiative which consolidated safety programs such as antiterrorism, operational security, physical security and cybersecurity into one concise program.
“The five phases of the EMP are protection, prevention, mitigation, response and recovery,” said Army Materiel Command Protection Division’s Mark Schmitz, who serves as the Emergency Management program manager “We are always, in some respect, within the first three phases. AMC is currently in phase four of the coronavirus response.”
The length of the COVID-19 response, he explained, is unprecedented in respect to other response efforts.
“Emergency Management has a policy that says response capabilities should last a maximum of 30 days, but with the COVID-19 response, it’s been going on for six months,” Schmitz said.
Pandemics, though a part of the EMP, cannot be predicted, said Mark Wagner, deputy to the Commander at Corpus Christi Army Depot.
“Our COVID-19 response evolved over the last six months because as the Army’s aviation depot, helicopters still need to be manufactured,” even during a pandemic, he said.
Due to the industrial nature of CCAD, emergency management personnel put measures in place to control the spread of the virus.
“Within the first 30 to 60 days, we sent high-risk employees home to telework and altered shifts for those employees coming onto the installation by accommodating six feet of distance between them,” Wagner said. “We also provided employees with cleaning chemicals to sanitize their work spaces between shifts.”
As Corpus Christi, Texas, became a COVID-19 hot spot over the summer, Wagner said he and CCAD leadership worked with the Navy to conduct contact tracing.
“We have a great relationship with our Navy partner on the installation,” said Wagner. “We trained them on contact tracing, and by doing so, we were able to return Soldiers back to the workforce, ensuring Army readiness.”
Army and Navy leadership stay closely nested with changing conditions, not just with COVID-19, but also environmental emergencies such as hurricanes, said Wagner. As hurricanes are common for a depot located on the Gulf of Mexico, emergency management personnel on the installation prepare for them every day.
“In 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Corpus Christi and did a lot of damage to the area. None of the hurricanes behave the way you expect them to,” said Wagner. “Harvey was supposed to be a category one hurricane at best, but within 24 hours upgraded to a category four.”
Emergency managers at northeast installations use different disaster notification systems based on the challenges presented in those environments. Tobyhanna Army Depot Installation Emergency Manager Brett Morgenweck said the installation prepares for mixed precipitation and winter storms by utilizing both the Enterprise ALERT! and Audio Vision Notification systems.
While notification systems are beneficial, Morgenweck believes a successful emergency management program is a symphony of an executable plan, supported by functioning equipment, operated by fully trained and experienced personnel who are empowered to make recommendations to their command teams.
“Every new employee should have a copy of the emergency action plan to know where to go during an emergency,” said Morgenweck.
Simple and easy to read emergency action plans, properly working equipment and a trained workforce are all needed to prepare for a disaster, but Wagner said personal responsibility is crucial.
“You can give people all the training, you can give them the equipment and systems and you can give them the plan, but their ability to do the right thing in the right situation and take responsibility for their role in that situation is absolutely critical,” said Wagner.
The same rings true not only on installations, but also at home.
“Everyone has a role to play when it comes to preparing for disasters,” said Schmitz. “Know where you would go if you and your family need to evacuate. Make sure your family has a plan and practices it often.”
|Date Posted:||09.16.2020 09:06|
|Location:||REDSTONE ARSENAL, AL, US|
This work, Army installations prepare for disasters during National Preparedness Month, by Rachel Deloach, identified by DVIDS, must comply with the restrictions shown on https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.
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