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Call for continuity leads to emergency response force reorganization

By Master Sgt. Hector Andrade | 37th Civil Engineer Squadron | March 2, 2007

Lackland Air Force Base, Texas — In a call for compatible emergency response procedures between local, state and federal agencies, the Lackland Disaster Response Force is being reorganized.

The attacks of Sept. 11 and the events surrounding Hurricanes Katrina and Rita revealed many areas of concern and system failures including lack of coordination, incompatible communications and bureaucratic infighting between the various agencies. Many of these agencies employed different tactics, command structures and communications during emergency response.

To ensure these problems do not arise during Air Force emergency response action, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne issued a memorandum introducing the Air Force Incident Management System, or AFIMS.

In January, members of Lackland's Exercise Evaluation Team, 37th Training Wing Plans and 37th Civil Engineer Readiness Flight attended the first of two AFIMS Implemen-tation Symposiums led by the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency.

These symposiums and the subsequent release of Air Force Instruction 10-2501, Emergency Management, Planning and Operations, have empowered Team Lackland members with the knowledge and guidance necessary to successfully implement the largest reorganization of the Lackland Disaster Response Force.

This creation and implementation of AFIMS was in direct response to Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5, which called for the establishment of a single, comprehensive national system for managing domestic incidents, now named National Incident Management System.

The creation is also in line with the secretary of defense memorandum directing the services to adopt NIMS.

The overall objective of Secretary Wynne's memorandum was to unify emergency management practices at all Air Force levels and to create a comprehensive approach to incident management that enhances the Air Force Disaster Response Force ability to plan for, prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies.

Full implementation and sustainment of AFIMS will require a two-phased approach that will be led and coordinated by the 37th CES Readiness Flight.

Phase 1 focuses on installation response procedures and includes the development and training in new policy, guidance and inspection criteria.

Within the next seven months, the flight is charged with training all Disaster Response Force members on AFIMS, rewriting the installation Comprehensive Emer-gency Operations Plan 10-2 and coordinating a series of AFIMS exercises with the EET.

Phase 2 includes follow-on actions to improve and sustain training, expand cross-functional coordination and exercises, and identify and resolve capability deficiencies. The entire transformation is scheduled to be complete by Dec. 31, 2009.

Throughout the transition, both the organizational response structure and Air Force-specific terminology will change to become federally compliant.

This change will also enable Lackland command and control nodes and emergency responders to obtain seamless interoperability with local responders, sister services or other federal agencies.

Some of the more visible conversions include the renaming of some of the current emergency response terms and titles; for example, the Full Spectrum Threat Response program becomes the Air Force Incident Management System; Crisis Action Team will change to Installation Control Center; and the Disaster Control Group will become the Emergency Operations Center.

The AFIMS implementation will be a complex and challenging endeavor; however, the unified approach and system acceptance by the Lackland Disaster Response Force will result in a timely and effective planning, preparedness, response and recovery capability for all emergencies and disasters.

For more information on AFIMS, call the 37th CES Readiness Flight at 671-4788.