McGhee Tyson uses emergency center design to run air show

  • Published
  • 134 Air Refueling Wing

Air shows don’t fly themselves; so who is in the cockpit?

The Tennessee Air National Guard’s 134th Air Refueling Wing leadership selected an Emergency Operations Center structure as the way to conduct business for smooth sailing, or rather flying, during the 2022 Smoky Mountain Air Show.

Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) are a collection of people who act as the expert contact for support resources needed during incident responses.

“We’re the brain, making sure resources and tasks get put where they need to be,” said Senior Master Sgt. Steven Breeden, the 134th Air Refueling Wing installation emergency manager. “We’re using the EOC construct as it’s the best system for communication.”

The EOC’s seats are filled by emergency support function (ESF) representatives, such as medical responders, fire protection specialists, security forces defenders, logisticians, food services experts and others. They all sit together in the same room, instead of in their respective buildings across base.

“That’s really the main idea behind it, being able to talk face-to-face with other process owners to make things happen,” Breeden said. “Nonverbal communication is 80 percent of the conversation. You can get a lot person-to-person that you can’t get virtually.”

According to Breeden, EOCs are not normally stood up prior to an incident occurring, but it is the best system to process information and communicate effectively.

EOCs are a phase of the Air Force Incident Management System, which is intended to protect installations and personnel, as well as prevent, mitigate, respond to, recover from incidents during both peace and wartime, according to Air Force Manual 10-2502.

AFIMS principles are driven by the National Institute Management System, which mandates federal departments and agencies use the same framework in order to communicate. This means everyone uses a similar numbering systems for like-functions.

“The cool thing about an EOC is they’re uniform across the board,” Breeden expained. “You don’t need to know someone’s name to talk to the person you need. You just need to call and say, hey I need to talk to your ESF 1, for example.”

When everyone speaks the same language, it avoids hang-ups that take precious time in emergencies.

“I think there’s always a chance of an emergency, any day,” Breeden said. “If there was an incident, we wouldn’t really do anything different than what we do normally in an EOC. We just need to easily, effectively communicate from start to finish.”

Like the National Guard, the Smoky Mountain Air Show EOC is always ready, always there.

“We’re open as long as the air show is,” Breeden said. “We’re rigidly flexible as always, and ready to respond and recover from anything at the air show, not just emergencies.”

If there is an emergency at the air show, patrons should call 9-1-1. If a patron is nervous about something of a non-emergency nature, there are information desks, medical tents, and installation security forces personnel throughout the air show event area.