Wing TO staff provides communication link

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Ray Bowden
  • 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Everyday, thousands of Holloman Airmen and civilians drive past the 49th Communications Squadron Telephone Operations facility and probably never give the nondescript structure a second glance.

The 49 CS TO staff prefers this low profile as the building houses the wing's main telephone switch and if rendered inoperable, message traffic transferring across Holloman's 6,854 active phone lines would be limited.

"If somebody took out our switch, telephone communications for the base would cease," said Tech Sgt James Kinsey, 49 CS NCO in-charge of telephone operations.

Ms. Carol Watson, 49 CS communications services monitor, said the TO building is the wing's storage point for telephone and cable data.

"Every on-base telephone call is captured at the TO office," she said.

Nine civilian operators work 8 hour shifts to field calls; three working the day-shift, two on the swing-shift and one operator to field calls during the mid-shift. According to recent TMS statistics, these nine operators process an average of 26,588 calls a month.

"In addition to servicing all 17,000-plus Holloman customers, our telephone operators are the customer service lifeline to the outside world," said Capt Colin Giboney, 49 CS Missions Systems Flight commander. "Their energy, enthusiasm and lightening-quick efficiency when answering calls never ceases to amaze me," he said.

TO operators use any information a caller may give - a building number, a facility name, etc - to look up a number.

"Most of the time, the operators can recall a phone number instead of looking it up for the customer," said Sergeant Kinsey.

In addition, the TO staff handles all wing work orders for telephone service.

"When a work order comes in requesting new telephone service, I verify that it will meets [the customers] needs," said Sergeant Kinsey. "Once the line or connection is installed, it is tested for quality assurance purposes."

The actual installation and other work is accomplished by civilian contractors.

Along with being the conduit for day-to-day telephone traffic, the TO staff facilitates Holloman's Dial-a-Ride and Hearts Apart programs. In 2006, the TO staff was the conduit for 2,399 Dial-a-Ride calls with 596 saves.

"A save is when an Airman receives a safe ride home after calling 572-RIDE," said Ms. Watson.

Ms. Watson believes the TO staff plays a key role in Holloman's success as a wing.

"We're very much a part of the support of this wing," she said. "We are the Wingmen in services such as Dial-a-Ride, Hearts Apart, for the German air force and their international calls and just for the general public here," she said.

The TO staff recently updated the Electronic-9-1-1 and the wing's primary and secondary crash net system. According to Sergeant Kinsey, the newly installed E-9-1-1 system highlights pertinent response information such as the address of the caller which leads to faster response time.

The communications reach of the TO office extends well beyond the installation fence-line.

"We have circuits that go all the way down to White Sands, Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range. We also work with local communication providers," said Ms. Watson.

Ms. Burdian Martinez, 49 CS TO operator, said that while she enjoys assisting customers, some of them become impatient when dealing with an automated voice system.

"Callers don't like to hear the appointment line; they want to hear a voice," she said. "They call back and get mad because no one is answering the automated system. There's nothing we can do about it."

Ms. Silvia Delgado, 49 CS TO recommends customers calling for information have a pen and paper ready to take the information as it saves time and allows the operators to assist more customers.

While most of the TO facility staff's daily activities are conducted below the radar, they play a crucial role in keeping Holloman up-and-running and are the hub of all wing telephone communications.

Sergeant Kinsey asks that Holloman personnel use and submit the AF IMT 3215 to request new phone connections or call the 49 CS Help Desk at 572-3000 for assistance.