Military News

Monday, April 06, 2015

Alaska is home to many potential threats; be prepared for them

by Tech. Sgt. Raymond Mills
JBER Public Affairs

4/6/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- They are there when you need them. The personnel of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's Emergency Management office work hard planning for, mitigating and responding to emergencies that may result in death, injury, destruction of property, or disruption in operations.

"The primary mission of the Air Force Emergency Management Program is to save lives, minimize the loss or degradation of resources, and sustain and restore operational capability in hazardous environments at Air Force installations worldwide," said Tech. Sgt. Leslie Baxter, JBER Emergency Management noncommissioned officer in charge of plans and operations.

Being prepared for contingency operations is a must, and the military is no different.
The Air Force EM program examines potential emergencies and disasters based on risks posed by likely hazards, develops and implements programs aimed at reducing the impact of such events, prepares for risks that cannot be eliminated, and prescribes actions required to deal with consequences of actual events and to recover from those events, Baxter said.

Baxter said in addition to their primary mission, emergency management technicians maintain ancillary missions that include support of homeland defense, civil support operations, and support to civil and host nation authorities in accordance with Department of Defense directives.

Preparedness is crucial to mitigating disasters, since emergencies can happen at any time with little or no warning.

Alaska has several natural and man-made hazards which give little or no notice, include earthquakes, windstorms, wildfires, volcanoes, floods, hazardous-materials spills and house fires.

"We have to be ready for the 'what if' situation," said Jilene Reichle, JBER emergency management plans and operations specialist.

JBER emergency managers must have plans ready to deal with a variety of natural disasters in Alaska, such as the 1964 earthquake.

According to the Alaska Earthquake Center, the 9.2-magnitude earthquake was the second-largest ever recorded and lasted about four minutes. It devastated 1.3 million square kilometers, killed 115 Alaskans and resulted in approximately $300 to $400 million in damage.

"The quake of '64 helped bring the reality that disasters do actually happen here," Reichle said.

The JBER Emergency Management Office sets-up base-wide drills and routinely travels off base to remind people to prepare for disasters.

The American Red Cross recommends maintaining an emergency preparedness kit in the event of disaster. Kits should be tailored to threats associated with your area, but still contain the basics.

The Red Cross suggests the following items as a basic preparedness kit:

  • Water: one gallon per person, per day; three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home

  • Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items; three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home

  • Flashlight and/or lantern

  • Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio (NOAA weather radio, if possible)

  • Extra batteries

  • First aid kit

  • Medications (seven-day supply) and medical items

  • Multi-purpose tool

  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items

  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)

  • Cell phone with chargers

  • Family and emergency contact information

  • Extra cash

  • Emergency blanket

  • Map(s) of the area
Although the average emergency preparedness kit should have preparations for three days, the State of Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management website suggests a seven-day supply.

Once assembled, emergency preparedness kits should be put in a safe and accessible location.

According to the Center for Disease Control, emergency kits should be checked periodically throughout the year for expired dates on food, medicine and batteries.

"It's not a matter of 'if' disaster will strike," Reichle said. "It's a matter of 'when'."

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