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NEWS | Oct. 21, 2015

Security, emergency management team keep air show visitors safe

Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

Presenting a two-day air show to several hundred thousand people is a huge undertaking that requires months of preparation.

One of the most important tasks in preparing for an air show belongs to the active-duty members and civilians who are responsible for ensuring the safety and security of all those visitors.

“Our goal is to have a safe, enjoyable event for all our visitors,” Bob Vickers, 902nd Security Forces Squadron Plans and Programs Branch chief, said. “Joint Base San Antonio security forces squadrons will be handling security, the bulk of it from the 902nd SFS.”

Other agencies and organizations involved in security and emergency management include the 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations joint terrorism task force, the San Antonio Police Department and the Southwest Texas Fusion Center, he said.

Preparations for the air show began in December, Vickers said. The security and emergency management team look at a variety of issues: threat possibilities, manpower requirements, military resources on the ground, transportation, communication, contingency response options, distinguished visitor protection, and escort and protection requirements for the Air Force Thunderbirds, the headline attraction at the event.

“Though those threats may not be out there, we factor all those things in during our preparations,” he said.

Other concerns include petty thefts, medical emergencies and traffic management issues, including accidents and motorists driving under the influence of alcohol.

Vickers said JBSA-Randolph will lean on civilian support from Universal City, Schertz and Converse law enforcement officers and other first responders.

“The outside agencies assist with off-base traffic flow,” he said. “We want to keep that flow going as best as we can.”

Vickers said exercises also figure prominently in air show preparations.

“We plan for what we think is the worst-case scenario,” he said. “Just think of what’s happened in the media – those kinds of threats.”

Vickers said visitors to the air show can ensure their own safety and enjoyment by entering JBSA-Randolph through the right gates and by heeding a list of prohibited items.

“The general public will have road signs directing them to the air show,” he said. “Department of Defense card holders should use the main and west gates on FM 78, while the general public will use the east gate on FM 78, the south gate on Lower Seguin Road and the stable gate on FM 1518.”

Prohibited items are bicycles, coolers, backpacks, skateboards, firearms, knives, pets and alcoholic beverages, while permitted items, authorized after a search by security forces, include camera bags, diaper bags, purses, strollers and lawn chairs with or without canvas carrying cases.

Vickers offered other advice to air show visitors.

“Keep an eye on your children, and make sure you use sunscreen and drink plenty of water,” he said. “Heat off the runway is magnified.”