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NEWS | April 25, 2008

Emergency services facing staff reductions, but mission continues

By David DeKunder Staff writer

Responding to emergency calls, being ready for aircraft emergencies and spreading the word about fire safety to base members are all in a day's work for Randolph Fire and Emergency Services personnel. 

On call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, base emergency personnel serve a variety of roles from firefighter to medic to educator. 

The job of providing fire, medical and aircraft emergency service will become a challenge for Randolph emergency personnel as their ranks get smaller because of Air Force-wide staff reductions in coming months. 

Mark Ledford, RFES chief, said the anticipated staff reductions will not change the focus of base emergency personnel. 

"We will take an approximately 20 percent cut in staff, from 72 to 56 firefighters, but our mission will remain unchanged," he said. "On top of the cuts, we could expect to have six to 12 of our firefighters deployed in the fall. It will be a challenge, but we will have to be creative and innovative." 

Mr. Ledford said base fire and emergency services are continuing to build strong relationships with on base and off base organizations. 

"We have outstanding relationships with the 12th Medical Group and 12th Security Forces," he said. "The way we interface with each other on scene is efficient and very functional." 

RFES is working with the 12th Flying Training Wing to help improve its response time, Mr. Ledford said. 

"We are working to upgrade our notification software, which allows us to receive our 911 calls and emergency alarms, so that the location of the alarms would be automatically displayed on a map," he said. "That will help us reduce our response time because we will know exactly were to go." 

Base fire and emergency services keeps its personnel prepared by holding routine exercises at its three story training facility on the east side of the base near the horse stables. 

On April 28, the Department of Defense Mobile Training Team instructors from Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, will conduct rescue exercises with Team Randolph personnel throughout the base. When base personnel complete the exercises, which will go over rescue techniques in confined spaces, high angles and auto extrication, they will be certified as rescue technicians. 

"We try to stay up with the latest techniques and technology," Mr. Ledford said. "We have some really bright people who are motivated enough so that we can utilize the latest technology to be more efficient in what we do." 

During the spring, summer and fall, base emergency services give tours of the base fire station during the flight line orientation segment of the Aerospace Medicine Primary Course at Brooks City Base. The U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine puts on the course to train Air Force physicians to be flight surgeons. 

Maj. Mike Madrid, Aerospace Medicine Primary Course deputy director, USAFSAM, said Team Randolph emergency personnel provide an invaluable orientation to the equipment and vehicles that are used for aircraft emergencies and other situations. 

"The purpose of the orientation is to make our students aware of the operations of these highly trained professionals and how they, as future flight surgeons, integrate into that operational environment," Major Madrid said. "We desire upcoming flight surgeons to establish an open dialogue and close working relationship with base firefighters. Base surgeons-in-training get a hands-on experience with their operations to include familiarization with the incident command system." 

Whether its responding to a medical or aircraft emergency to educating civilians and military personnel about emergency management, RFES will always be ready, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help Team Randolph when they are needed.