Emergency management Airmen hold radiological survey exercise

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. BreeAnn Sachs
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

The 49th Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management flight held a radiological survey exercise Oct. 1, 2021 on Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Six Airmen practiced the proper wear of personal protective equipment, use of ADM-300 radiation survey meters, command and control procedures and executed an eight-leg survey in response to a suspicious package.

“Suspicious packages can happen anywhere,” said Airman 1st Class James Partin, 49th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management journeyman. “A ‘red’ or radiation exposure device can be delivered anywhere on base, and this training ensures we know how to respond to it and know how to do it right.”

Radiological survey exercises are held annually to ensure emergency management Airmen are prepared to respond at a moment’s notice. In addition to practicing radiation detection procedures, the noncommissioned officers of the flight took a back seat and empowered the junior Airmen to act as the incident commander, team leads and command and control element.

“I think everyone can be a leader, and that’s what they set you up for,” said Airman 1st Class Erika Vega, 49th CES emergency management apprentice who filled the team lead role during the exercise. “In emergency management you’ll eventually be leading your group and that’s why they want us to lead people. It was pretty fun and cool, I still have a lot to develop with my skills as team lead.”

In the emergency management career field, there is always the possibility an Airmen will be put in a leadership role during a real-world emergency. Leadership skills are developed from the day Airmen arrive from technical training to ensure they are prepared for that task.

“It helps them figure out what the positions are and figure out what goes through the team lead’s head,” said Tech. Sgt. Lisa Sandahl, 49th CES emergency management noncommissioned officer in charge. “We are an Airman-heavy shop right now, so there could be a chance one of them has to lead. It gets them in that mindset of, ‘it is me today.’”

Emergency management personnel not only have to master their craft and refine their leadership skills, they ensure the entire base is prepared and trained in the event an emergency arises.

“The Airmen teach CBRN to the whole base populous,” said Sandahl. “Anyone can be in that class, and they need to be in that technical expert mindset of, ‘I know my job,’ so they can instruct other people despite the gap in rank because they are that subject matter expert at that time.”

While the level of responsibility put on emergency management Airmen is high, their outlook on the job is higher. Providing leadership opportunities like this to Airmen of all levels ensures the 49th Wing remains prepared for any situation and will succeed in every type of mission at a moment’s notice.

“I’ve always wanted to help people and I thought medical was the only way to do that, I actually got into this job on accident and I could not be happier,” said Partin. “To me, being part of (the emergency management) system allows everyone on base to respond in one effective system and I think that’s just beautiful – it’s like art.”