By Wendy Brown, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsMay 14, 2019
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (May 14, 2019) -- The word "muster" usually applies to a gathering of military personnel for inspection.
For the upcoming Camp Zama Emergency Evacuation Program muster May 20 to 23, however, organizers prefer spouses and family members attend instead of Soldiers.
"It's the spouses, it's the family members, that we really need going through this, getting educated, so the first time they go through it isn't in the event of an evacuation," said Lt. Col. Paul Goyne, emergency evacuation program manager for U.S. Army Japan.
The distinction is that nonemergency-essential personnel, spouses and family members would evacuate during a disaster, Goyne said, while Soldiers and emergency-essential personnel would stay.
Will Luna, installation emergency manager, U.S. Army Garrison Japan, said the muster will take place at the Camp Zama Community Club ballroom, and organizers will notify participants according to unit when they should attend through the AtHOC messaging system.
"We've pre-coordinated that with all the units and the leadership and the wardens to make sure everyone is knowledgeable about when they're going to be activated," Luna said. "So it hopefully will not surprise anyone."
The muster is "all hands, 100 percent accountability," Luna said.
"Everyone who would potentially be an evacuee has to process through," Luna said. "Either their sponsor has to go through or one member of the family has to go through."
Participants need to bring their EEP packets, which contain all the forms and information necessary for evacuation, and their go bags, Luna said.
Organizers expect it to take about 25 minutes to go through the inspection, Luna said, but it could take longer depending on how many people are present and if the participant has questions or needs to fix a problem.
Anyone unfamiliar with the muster or EEP packets should talk to his or her EEP warden, Luna said. Every unit has a warden and an alternate.
Likewise, those who want to check the accuracy of their information in the AtHOC system can talk to their EEP wardens, Luna said.
Luna and Goyne said that because of the amount of personally identifiable information in the packets, sponsors should keep the packets, not the unit, and family members should know where it is and have access to it in case of emergency.
Whether a sponsor keeps the packet at home or the office is a personal decision, Luna said, but it should be a safe place that family members can access.
Luna said he does not recommend keeping an EEP packet in one's vehicle because someone could break into the vehicle or steal it and have access to a lot of personal information.
Those assembling a go bag need to remember it should be able to sustain a person for three days, Luna said.
"The idea behind that is that if we evacuate you, we might have to send you to a couple of different spots before we get you back to wherever the safe-haven location is somewhere in (the continental United States)," Luna said.
Since people have different needs, emergency officials do not dictate an exact list of go bag contents, Luna said.
In general, however, a go bag should contain hygiene products, wet-weather gear, a little bit of food, a bottle of water, a small first aid kit, a flashlight, an extra set of clothes and basic items specific to an individual's needs, Luna said.
Luna and Goyne emphasized that the more potential evacuees participate in a meaningful way, the less stress everyone will encounter should a disaster occur.
"Giving that family member the experience of going through an evacuation control center, seeing what it looks like, will give them a little confidence in our ability to evacuate them safely and quickly, and also give them a little orientation for what it's going to look like," Luna said.
The installation holds EEP musters twice a year to make sure everyone is ready, Luna said.
A Phase I muster, like the one this month, checks to make sure everyone has their packets and go bags in order, Luna said, while the Phase II muster, which will take place in October, will additionally include a practice run with volunteers to Naval Air Facility Atsugi or Yokota Air Base by bus.
"The important thing for people to realize is that this installation takes a proactive approach to readiness and resiliency," Luna said. "We do that in many different programs across the installation, and the Emergency Evacuation Program and the Emergency Management Program are no different."
Luna said the programs are a necessity in Japan because of the possibility of disasters caused by earthquakes, volcanoes or typhoons.
In 2011, for example, Camp Zama residents evacuated during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Luna said.
"The likelihood is that they will not have to evacuate while they're here--and I hope that's the case," Luna said. "But hope is not a plan, so we have to make sure that not only can we as the installation be able to execute an evacuation, we need to make sure that our family members, our community members, are ready to evacuate should the need ever come."