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NEWS | May 15, 2020

Feedback Fridays

By Brig. Gen. Laura L. Lenderman 502d Air Base Wing Commander

Feedback Fridays is a weekly forum that aims to connect the 502d Air Base Wing with members of the Joint Base San Antonio community. Questions are collected during commander’s calls, town hall meetings and throughout the week.

If you have a question or concern, please send an email to RandolphPublicAffairs@us.af.mil using the subject line “Feedback Fridays.” Questions will be further researched and published as information becomes available.

COVID-19

Q. What is being done to address those federal employees that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified as being of higher risk of a serious case should they contract COVID-19? Are they still working or are they being allowed to self-isolate? Has the 502d Air Base Wing identified those personnel?

The CDC identifies those conditions as follows: chronic lung disease or moderate or severe asthma, heart disease with complications, immunocompromised, any age with severe obesity (BMI greater than 40), certain underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease, hypertension, pregnancy, age older than 65.

A. Thank you very much for your questions. The safety and wellbeing of all of our JBSA personnel is my top concern.

All members of our valued workforce who have underlying health conditions similar to those outlined by the CDC should speak with their supervisors or leadership to request leave or adjustments to their teleworking status. These employees may be authorized the use of Weather and Safety Leave, eligibility to telework, modified work schedules or a combination of these accommodations.

Q. There is an abundance of taxis on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston on the weekends transporting trainees to and from the PX and other areas. With the need to quarantine and use sterilized shipping to get Soldiers here, is there any discussion about stopping the flow of public transportation that could spread the virus?

A. Thank you for your question. We’ve discussed these concerns with the leadership of JBSA-Fort Sam Houston training organization who have directed trainees to not utilize the taxis and/or wear proper personal protective face coverings.

We are balancing the safety of trainees with the critical requirement for many permanent party and TDY personnel on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston who rely upon them to transit to on and off base locations. Their use has been minimized as much as possible to enforce social distancing and the “Stay Home-Stay Safe” order.

Q. I went to the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Pershing ballfield this morning to do a virtual 5K for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and encountered a unit doing a PT test. They were not following social distancing and only partially following face-covering guidance – the person holding feet had cloth mask but the person doing sit-ups did not.

I am part of a team that has been setting up an overflow intensive care unit for Brooke Army Medical Center to try to avoid situations like New York and Italy.

The distancing measures and extension of PT test requirements are meant to help reduce infection rates. When I asked why they were conducting the test, they said they were aware of the regulations but had been directed to do it by their commander.

I’m asking JBSA to come together as a team and help us limit this virus. The PT tests are a high-risk activity that are not currently required.

A. Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention. We are very grateful for you and your team and the selfless service you provide every day to keep us healthy and safe.

I’ve asked my team to engage with our mission partners to ensure unit leadership and commanders ensure the safety of their personnel.

Our military personnel are expected to remain mission ready to include meeting physical fitness standards; however, this can and should be done in compliance with all CDC recommended COVID-19 social distancing, personal hygiene and sanitation precautions.

Thank you for taking a stand to help educate and remind all of the need to follow all precautions.  

Installation & Facilities

Q. Please do something about exhaust from government and private vehicles entering buildings where people are working. This also includes commercial government vehicles and many types of large work trucks.

Please also do something about Goodwill landscaping that uses multiple types of mowing, leaf blowers with an extreme capacity to move debris, riding equipment that has poisonous exhaust spreads huge clouds of dust and particles of debris in the areas where people live and work while they are present.

People are ignoring no parking signs. Facility managers will not police parking areas. Supervisors of work sites ignore and disregard common sense work safety to residents and occupants in buildings.

It is common sense to protect health, these accepted unsafe practices are causing injuries and disease. It will take a major initiative from the 502d ABW Commander to change these unsafe practices.

A. Thank you for highlighting the importance of emission mitigation which is a critical initiative for JBSA and our surrounding community. We are working together with the City of San Antonio and Bexar Country to improve the air quality and mitigate and reduce environmental hazards.

Regarding your specific questions, most large vehicles should not be operating in close proximity to facilities unless directly related to a mission set for that facility (supply, vehicle maintenance, etc.) or to support a specific purpose (maintenance, construction, deliveries).

In most instances, these vehicles should not be running while not in use, unless necessitated by the supported function. Additionally, most facilities on JBSA should be operating with their windows and doors closed to ensure the efficiency of HVAC systems. If these systems are not functioning properly or if a vehicle parked nearby the facility is creating excessive exhaust that is entering the facility, occupants should work with their facility managers or unit leadership to help resolve, to include engagement with the unit that oversees the vehicle and/or coordination with the Wing Safety office.

Facility managers should coordinate with Civil Engineering on any construction/maintenance related activities, which are required to follow prescribed to abide by work-site safety management practices.

Regarding our landscaping contractor, their guidelines require them to maximize safety precautions when operating landscaping machinery on JBSA. By nature of their operations, moving dust and debris will occur; however, the employees are instructed to take precautions to help avoid injury or damage to persons or property. If a specific incident occurs, please contact your facility manager who will reach out to CE Customer Service to resolve.

To the policing of parking lots and “No Parking” spaces and areas, our Defenders take appropriate action immediately upon spotting violations.

However, with current manpower and our priorities aligned to COVID-19 support operations, we are not patrolling parking lots as much as before the month of March.

Therefore, if you see a pattern of violations going unchecked, please elevate up your chain of command to your commander, who has an opportunity to bring it up in the monthly installation Executive Agent-hosted “Mission Partner Forum.” Appropriate action will be taken from there. Thank you again for bringing these concerns to my attention.

Miscellaneous

Q. A few weeks ago, the City of San Antonio, or CoSA, opened a new walking trail that goes from Eisenhower Park across Military Highway to right in front of the Main JBSA-Camp Bullis gate.

With COVID‐19, the park is regularly overcrowded with many cars parked along Military Highway, making it difficult to access JBSA-Camp Bullis to get to work. Many of the trail users do not pay attention to the busy road they are crossing.

Can we install or requests signs from CoSA for both the pedestrian and vehicle traffic and/or have no parking signs posted outside the gate? If nothing is done, there is a very high likelihood that an accident will result in injury or death.

A. Thank you for your feedback and concerns! We reached out to TXDoT and identified our safety concerns along with requesting pedestrian crossing signs for vehicles and caution signs to warn pedestrians of oncoming traffic.

In addition to these items, we also asked them to look into installing “No Parking” signs posted outside the gate and possibly an overflow parking area away from Military Highway. As always, protecting the health and safety of personnel is my number one priority.

Q. Why after 5 years, and in a pre-COVID environment, is the military community not advertising, utilizing and promoting the Gateway Club for off-duty Soldiers, singles, retirees and those on TDY as a great place to relax and socialize with quality entertainment, bands, Karaoke, etc. on Friday nights?

A. Thank you very much for supporting our JBSA clubs and helping us advertise our entertainment initiatives!

When health conditions allow, the Gateway Club will resume hosting a variety night every Friday in the Lone Star Lounge with a DJ playing a variety of music and will continue to implement new programs into the calendar.

Please check out the JBSA Today website and magazine, 502d FSS Facebook, marquees and subscribe to FSS weekly emails to stay informed of all the happenings at the Gateway, Parr, and Kendrick Clubs as well as the Fort Sam Houston Community Center. I hope to see you soon at the Club! 

Q. Please assist with getting the word out on enforcing the Air Force smoking directive. There is a systemic problem across JBSA facilities not having designated smoking areas (per AFI) and no enforcement restricting those that smoke/use tobacco products to these areas.

On a daily basis, I and others have to walk past/through second-hand smoke at my workplace and other locations where people are smoking on the paths of travel to our facilities. Per Air Force Initiative 48-104, Aerospace Medicine, Tobacco-Free Living, there shouldn’t be anyone smoking (includes vaping and other tobacco products) within 50 feet of building entrances.

We don’t have any signage, or letter that we know of where the commander/director has designated a smoking area and zero enforcement. This is more of an issue when it’s raining as those smoking are positioned under the overhangs of the buildings. There are no Designated Tobacco Area letters/signs indicating where they may smoke.

A. Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. My team will work hard to ensure designated smoking areas are enforced. There are locations that were previously approved as Designated Tobacco Areas, or DTA, which are maintained in our Civil Engineers’ mapping system database; however, these locations are no longer valid based on revised medical AFI guidance that was published last year.

Our CE team worked on replotting those locations based on the new criteria and has the drafts developed. After review, our Community Planning Office will identify which areas should become, or in the case of acceptable existing sites remain as, DTAs.

Once finalized, the revised map will be coordinated with the Air Base Wing and the medical community for approval. At that time, the map will be available on our Geobase SharePoint website to facility managers. Following that, CE will fix the signage on facilities that were or are now DTAs so that everyone can be informed of the new designations. So be on the lookout!