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Maj. Chris Reynolds, an Air Forces Northern Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer, assist Haitians after their arrival at the Ft Lauderdale International Airport on January 22, 2010. EPLOs, trained to respond to natural and manmade disasters in the United States, were on-site to support Haitian earthquake relief efforts.(U.S. Air Force Photo by Lt. Col. Scott Tagg)
Air Forces Northern Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers gather for assembly
Posted 3/8/2013 Updated 3/8/2013
by Mary McHale
AFNORTH Public Affairs
3/8/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – More than 80 Air Force Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers (EPLOs) recently met in Panama City for their 2013 Combined Individual Mobilization Augmentee Training Assembly.
These officers, the majority O-6s, are IMA reservists, who, when activated during a disaster response event, provide federal and state officials an analysis of Air Force capabilities that can be brought to bear along with recommendations for subsequent courses of action. The officers are dispersed geographically throughout 54 states and territories, 10 FEMA regions and higher federal and military headquarters. From these locations, they work to establish and maintain seamless relationships with all Air Force bases; state emergency operations centers; Federal Emergency Management Agency regions; Civil Air Patrol Wings and Air Forces Northern both during steady state operations and during disasters.
Rodney Simmons, Air Forces Northern National Security Preparedness Director, said the assembly affords the EPLOs the chance to get together, talk about what they did the previous year, how they did it, and how well they did it. They use panels to analyze the different events to encourage an active, fulfilling dialogue.
“It provides the unit members an opportunity to review responses to the previous year’s events, to analyze them, look at the good, the bad and the ugly,” Simmons said. “We try and get all perspectives, from the different disaster control officers who work with the EPLOs, to what was happening back here in the Defense Support to Civil Authorities cell. We also included perspectives from the 601st Air and Space Operations Center and the Air Forces Northern staff.”
Simmons described ensuing discussions about Hurricane Isaac, the Western U.S. wildfires and Hurricane Sandy as frank, open discussions with lots of information exchange.
Rick Bacon, AFNSEP regional director to FEMA regions VI and VII, and assembly logistics planner, agreed the lessons learned portion provided valuable feedback to all involved.
“EPLOs that responded to the storms and wildfires that occurred during 2012 were able to share their experiences, both positive and negative, with the EPLO nation, and learn from those experiences. The one major item of discussion is for all to remember that no two disasters are the same.”
But reviewing the past year’s DSCA operations was not the only purpose for the assembly. It also provided participants an opportunity to address career concerns, lay eyes on one another and update training and technology requirements.
“They’re kind of off the scope in their various assigned areas of responsibility in the Regions, States and US Territories,” Simmons said. “They’re assigned to us but they’re geographically separated. Our goal is to work closer with Air Force Reserve Command officials to ensure our colonels are getting the same career opportunities as active duty. They work hard for us and it’s up to us to work hard for them.”
According to Bacon, another primary goal of the assembly is to ensure each EPLO maintains their training and readiness status.
“Failure to maintain readiness has a major impact during a disaster response,” Bacon said. “In addition to their readiness, training provided by veteran EPLOs during the assembly provided valuable insight to those new EPLOs within the program.
Also at this assembly, unit participants got to update their assigned technologies, namely laptops and Blackberries.
“We really needed to do a tech refresh and thanks to the combined team effort of AFNSEP, the Air Communications Squadron, the 325th Communications Squadron and the AFNORTH communications directorate, the effort went flawlessly. Frankly I thought this was one of our best assemblies ever with all the key players being able to reach out to one another on a face to face basis.”
Article source: http://www.1af.acc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123339432