By Spc. Noelle WieheSeptember 7, 2018
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Preparedness in the event of an emergency may continuously be on the minds of those who have experienced a catastrophic event before, but this September, during National Preparedness Month, Soldiers, their Families and those surrounding the community are reminded that preparedness should remain a constant.
The theme of National Preparedness Month for 2018 is, "Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How." The awareness month was created to improve installation-wide preparedness, said Randall "Mack" McPherson, installation emergency manager.
"There are things that people should know to react to (a situation) and to remain safe," McPherson said.
Those things to know can be found in educational materials in the newly organized resource center, where information is broken down into individual protective measures, emergency preparedness, operational security, computer security, cyber security, and anti-terrorism.
Command Sgt. Maj. Rebecca Myers, the Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield garrison command sergeant major, said the priority in the Army is readiness, so preparing for incidents, disasters and the full scale of unforeseeable events are no different. Soldiers, their Families and those around should remain ready.
She emphasized four things to maintain readiness within the force:
1. Ensure ADPAAS is up-to-date and current
2. Make sure emergency rosters are up-to-date
3. Families and single Soldiers have emergency kits at home
4. Have an evacuation plan.
ADPAAS is the Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment System, where Soldiers, Family Members, defense contractors and civilians report their status and whereabouts following a disaster if directed by their command.
Myers said knowing what incidents could affect specific areas are important because while knowing how to respond to an active shooter should be universally practiced, a weather emergency such as snow is more a regional problem.
In the past two years alone, the installation was hit by severe weather and power was lost, said Myers. Soldiers and their Families had to evacuate the area.
"That allowed us here, at the garrison, to see what needs to be fixed, so if we did experience a hurricane, we could still operate here on the installation," Myers said.
Army-wide, other hazards have affected operations, to include Hurricane Harvey in Texas, wildfires in Utah and California and the Oroville Dam collapse in California.
"The scope, scale and geographic range of these incidents reflect the need to strengthen the levels of threat awareness and emergency preparedness across Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Air Field and the entire Army community," McPherson said.
One thing that should be done during this month is for members of the installation and community to take a look at their plans, McPherson said.
The Army's four preparedness tenets are:
1. Be Informed
2. Make a Plan
3. Build a kit
4. Get involved.
McPherson said people should be prepared for such emergencies year-round, but a good time to review one's preparedness is during September when the preparedness is particularly emphasized.
"Preparedness is not just emergency management - it is force protection, anti-terrorism, and emergency management; it's all of them," McPherson said.
The installation holds an annual full-scale, integrated exercise to test the response to an incident. The specific incident replicated in training changes each year, Myers said.
One year, the installation may practice responding to a natural disaster, the next could be a response to an active shooter, another year could be a power outage exercise. Most recently the training involved a mass-casualty bus crash and downed aircraft accident.
"Regardless of the incident, what that allows us to do, from the installation standpoint, is test all of our systems, test our responses and see how all of our agencies - Emergency Services, the hospital, the Operations Center, the Department of Public Works, any agency that might have to respond to that incident - work together," Myers said. "It allows us to keep our skills sharp and to be prepared if we have a disaster we have to respond to."
Soldiers, Families, civilians, and Department of Defense employees should arm themselves with knowledge before a disaster occurs. Visit the Resource Center on-post, or visit www.ready.gov or www.ready.army.mil for information on emergencies, a link to ADPAAS and more.