Command Post: the eyes and ears

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Suzie Plotnikov
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

When Staff Sgt. Kaylee Sprout heard Hurricane Nate was coming, the first thought that popped into her head was her dog at home.

As emergency action controllers, they must be prepared for anything and everything at home and on the installation, especially during hurricane season.

"We are the eyes and ears of the base," said Master Sgt. DeAnna Beasley, 81st Training Wing command and control operations superintendent. "We have the responsibility of notifying leadership and everybody across the installation of anything that will affect their safety."

The command post gets notified by the weather team on what hurricane condition they need to be in and what they should do when a hurricane approaches. All of the emergency preparation starts from there.

"We start reporting up to headquarters, letting everyone else know what is happening and the commander’s action team will start coordinating if they need to keep people on or off base," said Sprout, 81st TRW emergency action controller NCO in charge of systems.

With only five active duty emergency action controllers working the command post for the installation, things can get hectic for the team.

"When we had [Hurricane Nate] last year we had four people shelter in place inside the command post," said Sprout. "We were sleeping and switching on and off during our shifts as well as just trying to keep everything updated. We were tracking the storm coming through, where the aircraft were, making sure the commander has the information she needs, writing reports and sending out alerts."

The emergency action controllers disseminated information as they received it from leadership. This information helps alert Keesler members of any hazards, closures or weather updates they may need to stay safe.

"As leadership made those decisions [closing gates, recalls, etc.], we were responsible for telling everybody what to do as well as informing headquarters on what was happening with Keesler because they're not here to see it," said Beasley.

Their work doesn't end after a hurricane passes through. The team goes into the recovery stage where they are responsible for collecting data from different organizations to build reports to send to headquarters.

"We need to get the cost estimates for damage, getting back our aircraft, students and permanent party,” said Sprout. “We get information from the 403rd Reserve Wing on when the aircraft are going to be back, and we usually get cost estimates through email. We receive calls but if we need to call to get information, we will."

When the command post is in action they have a lot of responsibilities and without them, operations during hurricanes would not go as smoothly as they do.

"By having us, we streamline a lot of processes," said Sprout. "Instead of having someone calling four different places to get on thing sent up, we make it more direct and available, so everybody is responding as fast as possible."