RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
Every Airman encounters a Civil Engineer Squadron’s Emergency Management flight many times throughout their career. This is the flight that provides the class commonly referred to as CBRN. However, providing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense classes are just one of many vital roles EM plays for the Air Force.
“We are the ‘in case something happens’ flight,” said Master Sgt. Jessica Clayton, 786th Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management Operations noncommissioned officer in charge.
She explained the mission of EM is to minimize loss of life and property in the event of an emergency or disaster. They fulfill their mission by writing and reviewing plans for responses to possible incidents.
“The installation emergency management plan gets developed here,” said Clayton. “If something happens, we have a plan in place to deal with it.”
Emergency Management has thought through many scenarios and developed plans on how to deal with each of them; everything from natural disasters to aircraft mishaps, and of course, hazardous material incidents. However, EM does not just sit behind a computer and write the plans, they also respond and implement.
Staff Sgt. Benjamin Thompson, an Emergency Management craftsman, is coming up on his six year anniversary in the Air Force. He has worked in many of the different sections within EM and has responded to four different incidents within his career thus far, three of those have been at Ramstein.
Responding is Thompson’s favorite part of the job, he recalls one of his responses was to the Ramstein post office.
“That post office is the largest operating post office in the Air Force. When it shuts down, that’s a major impact on people,” said Thompson. “The fact that we’re able to go in and make sure it’s safe and ready for people to go get their mail again is pretty cool.”
Creating plans for use on the worst days imaginable is a piece of what EM does, with hopes that those plans will never have to be implemented.
“It is an interesting responsibility to know if something goes horribly wrong, all eyes are on you,” said Thompson. “It is a little intimidating at times.”
Those Airmen writing the plans can’t be everywhere when the plan has to be implemented, so training Airmen how to respond is of vital importance. One piece of advice Thompson has for every Airman is to take training seriously.
“Whether it’s us, or anybody else, take the training you have seriously,” said Thompson. “Those are the tools you might not know you’re going to need, but once you do, you’ll really wish you paid attention.”