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The Army has a new how-to guide on getting prepared for emergencies and responding to them. It builds on lessons learned from the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas.
The guide, called Army pamphlet 525-27, "Army Emergency Management Program," was released Sept. 20. It outlines what each command and installation across the Army should do to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies, said Col. Daryle Hernandez, the protection division chief within the Army G-34 (force protection).
"Soldiers and families need to know how to prepare for emergencies and be prepared to survive for a minimum of 72 hours before the restoration of essential services," said Bill Newman, program manager for the emergency management branch.
Here's what every soldier should know about the pamphlet and how to prepare for the unexpected:
One big plan
The Army's emergency management program and pamphlet are designed to set standardized guidelines for how to integrate and synchronize Army and local assets, Hernandez said.
"In the past, we've had a lot of emergency management plans," Newman said. "This ties in all of your assets and all your functional areas into one synchronized plan."
The Army Emergency Management Program was established in 2009, Hernandez said. After the Fort Hood shooting in November 2009, the Army put its lessons learned into the pamphlet.
Make it your own
The guidelines target garrison commands and Installation Management Command. Also, each command or tenant unit on post has a responsibility to know the program, develop supporting plans and work with their local garrison command, Hernandez said.
"When it comes time to manage an incident, you have the guidance to integrate before, during and after an emergency," Newman said.
Each installation is different, Hernandez said, and commanders should tailor their emergency management plan to their installation's size, location and resources.
Call the neighbors
The shooting at Fort Hood reinforced the importance of interoperability between first responders on post and from the local community, Newman said. This includes signing memorandums of agreement, agreeing on common training standards and conducting shared exercises.
"At Fort Hood, you had a situation that exceeded the capacity of the installation to deal with it with its own organic assets," Hernandez said. "It had to call on the assets of the local community."
Get ready, get set
The Army is working to upgrade its equipment and tools at each installation's emergency operations center, whether it's the mass notification system or enhanced 911 capabilities so each responding agency can communicate with one another, Newman said.
Beginning this quarter and over the next two to three years, the Army will start fielding new emergency response equipment or upgrading existing equipment at each post, Hernandez said. The equipment could include sirens and speaker systems for mass notifications or enhanced 911 dispatch systems.
The first two pilot installations are Fort Riley, Kan., and Fort Belvoir, Va.
The Army will provide funding to commands for exercises and certain requirements, Hernandez said.
What families can do
Soldiers and families can help by being prepared, Hernandez said.
The emergency could be a power outage that lasts for days or a natural disaster or a shooting like the one at Fort Hood.
"You need to be prepared," Hernandez said. "You need to make a kit. You need to focus your efforts on having a 72-hour plan."
To help soldiers and their families be prepared, the Ready Army website at http://www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy/">www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy/ has tips for preparing an emergency kit and other resources.