Crane Army's Best Prepares for the Worst

By Hayley SmithOctober 25, 2018

Crane Army's Best Prepares for the Worst
Crane Army Commander Col. Michael Garlington presents CAAA Plans Officer Jessica Kirkendall with her Professional Certificate in Army Emergency Management. Kirkendall underwent emergency management training and earned the Level I certification after ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The U.S. Army prides itself on readiness- readiness to fight any battle, whether overseas in combat or at home after a natural disaster. The Army Emergency Management Certificate Program is part of the world's most lethal fighting force's strategy to constantly improve and overmatch any adversary, from terrorists to tornadoes and everything in between.

The program helps ensure Army emergency management personnel possess common skillsets vital to effective communication and action during emergency situations.

"The Army Emergency Management certificate program provides these emergency managers with the fundamental knowledge of emergency management as an integrated system with resources and capabilities to address all hazards," Earle Chase, manager of safety and occupational health certificate programs, said. "This affords commanders and communities with highly-skilled individuals trained to best save lives and protect property threatened by disaster."

Due to Crane Army Ammunition Activity's inherently dangerous mission of storing, distributing, producing and demilitarizing munitions for the Warfighter, a natural disaster could prove especially catastrophic. Severe damage to CAAA's facilities could hamper its ability to provide munitions readiness to U.S. troops and damage to the munitions themselves could pose hazards to Crane personnel. To mitigate this risk, Crane Army appointed Plans Officer Jessica Kirkendall as its emergency manager to prepare for and handle potential crises.

As a former Army intelligence officer Kirkendall has experience running programs related to emergency management, including antiterrorism and physical security initiatives. She underwent the Army's emergency management training and earned a Professional Certificate in Army Emergency Management.

"Earning the Army emergency management certificate provided me the opportunity to learn exactly what EM is, what EM coordinators do and speak the 'language,'" Kirkendall said. "I now know how to run an emergency operations center and how to best coordinate with outside civilian organizations, like local and state governments."

Kirkendall received the Level I certification, the highest available to those who serve in emergency management as an additional duty. It provides a common foundation for Army emergency managers and lets installation commanders know what a Level I-certified manager is capable of handling during serious events.

Kirkendall credits the Army's emergency management training for teaching her how to prepare action plans down to the last detail.

"80 percent of emergency management is planning for what may happen," Kirkendall said. The most important part of that is considering all the small details that could affect your operations. It's always the little things, the little ankle-biters that come up and wreck your plan. The emergency management certification training was really helpful in that aspect of thinking through those."

Preparing for emergencies is especially complex on an installation such as Naval Support Activity Crane, where Crane Army is one of several tenant commands. Clear and open communication between all the tenant commands and NSA is essential to keeping everyone safe.

"An evacuation order from the NSA commander effects Crane Army differently from other commands, since CAAA employees are more geographically dispersed than the Navy's workforce," Kirkendall said. "Also, if the base gates are closed during a situation, Crane Army still has to manage munitions shipments. There's so many operational details specific to CAAA that are not a priority for the base as a whole. I make sure our command is aware of what's going on in the EOC and relay Crane Army's concerns."

Crane Army Commander Col. Michael Garlington lauded Kirkendall's efforts to go above and beyond her assigned duties to ensure Crane Army is prepared in the event of an emergency.

"Emergency management is all about mitigating damage after a catastrophic event," Garlington said. "The best way to do that is to be agile enough to respond to the unanticipated, identify roles and responsibilities and then execute to minimize any additional loss of lives or property. I applaud Jess for taking on this vast responsibility to protect not only Crane Army employees and property, but also those of our Navy partners and surrounding communities as well."

Safety remains a top priority at Crane Army. In an effort to best mitigate disaster, all members of the CAAA Emergency Management staff earned the Level I Professional Certificate in Army Emergency Management.

Crane Army Ammunition Activity produces and provides conventional munitions requirements in support of U.S. Army and Joint Force readiness. It is one of 14 installations of the Joint Munitions Command and one of 23 organic industrial base installations under the U.S. Army Materiel Command, which include arsenals, depots, activities and ammunition plants.