Unit control centers battle COVID-19 by accounting for Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 100th Air Refueling Wing unit control centers at RAF Mildenhall, England, play an important role in accounting for Airmen quarantined or isolated during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Stood up at the discretion of the wing commander during a contingency, each UCC serves as an information focal point for a squadron.

“The overall role of the UCC is to relay emergency information within the chain of command, usually through recall or accountability procedures,” said Staff Sgt. Isaiah Straubel, 100th Wing Staff Agencies UCC representative. “The reality of what we are doing is being the information bridge between individual units and incident/base commanders that are making critical decisions during a crisis.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the activation of UCCs, and the members manning them have risen to the challenge. For weeks now, UCCs across the wing have been tracking quarantined or isolated Airmen to provide accountability of members affected by Coronavirus.

The quarantined Airmen are those confined as a precaution due to potential exposure to the virus while the isolated individuals have shown symptoms similar to Coronavirus.

“We make contact with agency leads each day to ensure our data is current,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Hersey, 100th WSA UCC representative. “We have a database that outlines who is out due to quarantine or isolation. We also track if they’ve been TDY during potential exposure to the virus, as we’ve had personnel training during the initial outbreak.”

After the information is collected by the UCC, it is then routed up the chain of command and briefed at the wing level and above. Information collected must be accurate as it is being presented to leaders making decisions that affect thousands across the Air Force.

“Your credibility lies on the data you send up,” said Maj. Triven Pillai, 100th Comptroller Squadron commander. “Other people make decisions on it. Currently what we are collecting goes all the way to the U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander.”

Although ultimately a small part of the large effort fighting COVID-19, the roll of the UCCs is nonetheless key to beating the virus.

“The UCCs are important during the Coronavirus epidemic because we are constantly providing valuable, detailed information from the unit to the headquarters,” said Straubel. “At a glance, we are masters of spreadsheets and recall procedures, but at the end of the day, we are a cog in a system that cares about individual Airmen and are doing our best to keep everyone safe.”