As tensions increase throughout the pacific region, those of us stationed at Yokota AB find ourselves preparing for the worst should conflict arise. Multiple CBRNE and disaster preparedness exercises have re-focused our wing to ensure survivability and operability throughout a wide range of disaster scenarios.

While it is important for us to prepare for combat and natural disasters during duty hours, it is equally important to prepare action plans for our families and loved ones so they are taken care of should tragedy strike.  Having a solid action plan in place for our families will help give Yokota personnel the peace of mind that is needed to perform mission duties during a time of crisis.

HH-60G arrives at US Embassy in Liberia to evacuate civilian personnel.  The 398th Air Expeditionary Group was based out of Sierra Leone to provide personnel recovery and emergency evacuation capability for the humanitarian assistance survey team in Liberia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Justin D. Pyle)

HH-60G arrives at US Embassy in Liberia to evacuate civilian personnel.  The 398th Air Expeditionary Group was based out of Sierra Leone to provide personnel recovery and emergency evacuation capability for the humanitarian assistance survey team in Liberia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Justin D. Pyle)

As a rescue pilot I know first-hand what a well thought out emergency preparedness plan can do to save lives and speed up the recovery or evacuation effort. 

Early in my career I was part of a Non-Combatant Emergency Evacuation (NEO) to evacuate several personnel from the US Embassy in Liberia. While under sniper fire my aircraft was forced to wait on the ground as unprepared civilians schlepped their suitcases and tennis rackets to the aircraft as if they were boarding a first class flight to a resort getaway. 

Not only was my flight crew put in danger due to the delay, the excess baggage meant fewer personnel could board the aircraft and be evacuated. This lack of preparation resulted in extra evacuation flights thus leaving civilian and military personnel in harm’s way longer than was necessary.  The evacuees were not in the right state of mind for an emergency evacuation and it made the event much more stressful than it needed to be.  

Dependents of military members from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, wait to disembark from a C-17 Globemaster III after landing at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Md., April 1, 2016. Defense Department dependents in Adana, Izmir and Mugla, Turkey, were given an ordered departure by the State Department and secretary of defense. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Dependents of military members from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, wait to disembark from a C-17 Globemaster III after landing at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Md., April 1, 2016. Defense Department dependents in Adana, Izmir and Mugla, Turkey, were given an ordered departure by the State Department and secretary of defense. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Here are a few things you can do to be better prepared for a disaster situation.  Ensure you have a complete and up-to-date NEO folder, and review it with your family and the caretakers of your children.  The more familiarity they have with these government forms, the more at ease they will be when needing to produce them in a time of crisis.  Discuss the NEO process with family back home, and develop a communication plan, as this will help ease panic during a crisis situation.   Create a family action plan complete with “Go Bags” and pre-designated rally points. Program emergency contact numbers in your phone and brush-up on your self-aid buddy care and train your friends and family on SABC as well. Rescue and evacuation resources will be limited during a crisis.

Please do what you can to best prepare Team Yokota to take care of one another!

-Lt Col Scott Adams, 459 Airlift Squadron Director of Operations

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