News: WyANG EM technicians expertly prepared for duty
Story by Staff Sgt. Natalie Stanley
CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The airmen of the 153rd Civil Engineer Emergency Management team work hard to ensure the members of the 153rd Airlift Wing and the surrounding communities are trained and prepared in the event of a hazardous material incident.
The Civil Engineer Emergency Management career field members go through extensive and continuous training throughout their careers.
First, they attend a 16-week technical school at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., which includes: Air Force Disaster Preparedness Program, organization and responsibilities; readiness disaster response planning; and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives training. During training students also go through a live-agent chamber.
“We need to be able to stand in front of a class and tell them that we have been exposed to live agents and that we are living proof that the gear that they are wearing and the things we are teaching actually work,” said Master Sgt. Ingvar Ingvarsson, 153 AW Installation Emergency Management superintendent.
Emergency Management technicians learn to respond to hazardous material incidents from the lowest level, hazmat awareness - identifying the problem, to technician level - identifying the problem and responding accordingly. During the technician level class, EMs receive training on self-contained breathing apparatus and the Level A Suit - a fully encapsulated suit that provides the highest level of protection against vapors, gases, mists and particles.
Once back at home station, members accomplish a great deal of in-house training and work on-on-one with their supervisors to stay up to date in a changing career field and learn how to convey that knowledge to the base populous.
Master Sgt. Kelly Bouquet, emergency management technician, trains the Airmen in the emergency management shop and helps them develop a teaching style that works for them.
“We want these guys to be so familiar with the information that it just flows,” said Bouquet. “We get the airmen to develop their own teaching style so that they’re comfortable and a slide show doesn’t become a crutch to them.”
Many EM members were recruited for the career field based on expressed desire to instruct and teach and the career field takes only those with a high Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test score.
“I have an associate’s in teaching and being able to be an instructor is what drew me to this career initially,” said Senior Airman Erin Swingholm, emergency management technician. “I like teaching something nobody wants to do, put on or deal with, and try making it fun.”
Training the base populous for wartime is just one aspect of the EM technician’s job. They also oversee the regulations for base emergency management plans, act as first responders for hazmat incidents and both state and local responders use their expertise when needed.
“Emergency management is a full-spectrum operation,” said Ingvarsson, who has been in the emergency management career field since 2000 and joined the 153 CES in February 2012. “The civil support team will go in and either deny or confirm the presence of a chemical and that’s as far as they’ll go, but emergency management goes beyond that; we do comprehensive emergency management.”
Although the training is intense and the hours can be long, the eight members of the EM shop find it important to focus on coming together and developing the team’s moral on and off duty.
“We see our shop as a close-knit family,” said Swingholm, who has been an EM technician for more than four years. “If there’s anything going on, everyone is comfortable with sharing that with at least one person, if not the whole shop. We all pull together and support one another.”
Ingvarsson and Bouquet credit the success of the 153 CES Emergency Management Office to the hard work and talent of the Airmen.
“When I came here I wasn’t expecting the quality of emergency managers this shop already had,” said Ingvarsson. “I couldn’t be prouder of our crew and their capabilities.”