by Senior Airman Michael Washburn
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
9/10/2014 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- When
Yokota opened its gates on Sept. 6 and 7 for this year's Friendship
Festival, more than 150,000 patrons flocked to the flightline to
experience the food, music, culture and aircraft the U.S. and Japan
operate as part of their alliance.
With that many people on the base at one time, keeping the masses
informed on important notifications became paramount. Leading up to the
festival, Airmen from the 374th Communication Squadron radio frequency
shop have worked on and installed a new public address system to ensure
when alerts needed to go out, the system worked every time.
"Yokota's had a system like this before, but it was only a temporary one
and it needed to be upgraded," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Joseph, 374th CS
noncommissioned officer of radio frequency base operations. "We set up
18 new speakers located on nine buildings by the flightline. We made the
system a more permanent setup that we'll be able to use for the
For a job of such magnitude, careful planning and consideration went into deciding how to set up the new PA system.
"We started planning about two to three months ago," Joseph said. "We
knew what needed to be done, but it took about a month of coming up with
new ideas of how we were going to accomplish this until the final plan
The PA system filled two needs for Friendship Festival -- the ability to
inform the public and the capability to communicate between key
"We were able to announce upcoming events and inform people to be on the
lookout for a potential lost child or if hazardous weather was close,"
Joseph said. "We developed the system to be used in coordination with
land mobile radios. If a problem did arise that specifically dealt with
Friendship Festival, we were able to communicate with emergency
responders without tying up other dedicated real-world base emergency
Building an innovated new system from scratch brings new challenges that could potentially affect real-world operations.
"The main obstacle that we faced was how do we get a signal from one end
of the flightline to the other by copper wire, while not hindering
flightline abilities," said Airman 1st Class Daniel Wood, 374 CS project
The problem was resolved by running the system's wires through existing
phone lines and by utilizing the base switch system. The switch for the
PA system works just like how phone and internet work in offices around
When it mattered most, the system did just what was needed from it.
"The main system helped reunite 49 lost children with their families and
aided the Japanese National Police by helping get all 158,000 Japanese
Nationals that attended the festival across Highway 16 with zero
incidents," Wood said. "We know there is room for improvement with the
setup and will learn from this year to continue making it better for