VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Team Vandenberg supported the successful launch of Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-4E here, Dec. 3, 2018 at 10:34 a.m. PST.
Vandenberg, also known as Space Country, has a space mission. Instead of flyovers and airshows, Team V has missiles and rockets; giving base personnel a slightly different mission to carry out – launch support.
During a launch, Team V brings together the most qualified emergency responders and other essential personnel to the Emergency Operations Center. Bringing personnel together into the EOC allows the team to quickly assist and solve a problem if one were to arise.
“The purpose of the Emergency Operations Center is to support the incident commander, who is typically the head of the Fire Department, with any needs they have if an incident were to occur,” said Col. Michael Hunsberger, 30th Mission Support Group, commander, and one of four officers qualified to be the Director of the EOC at Vandenberg.
Some of the needed personnel in the EOC include a representative from Safety, Civil Engineer Readiness, Security Forces, Bioenvironmental, Operations Squadron and Fire Department. Each of these representatives have essential input if there were to be an incident.
“The EOC sets up as a liaison between the incident commander and the squadrons so that if a crisis were to occur, the incident commander can contact the EOC so that we can reach appropriate channels to solve the problem and keep the base safe,” said Hunsberger.
The EOC is open during launches, static fire, local fires, accidents, natural disasters and exercises.
“During a launch, you’re lighting something on fire, on purpose; there’s always a high chance for a small fire,” said Lt. Col. Jason Aftanas, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, and one of four officers qualified to be the Director of the EOC at Vandenberg. “However, the EOC is prepared for that high risk, low frequency event that could occur.”
Working at the EOC is an additional duty and personnel who work there attend quarterly training, as well as work all exercises to stay up-to-date and trained so that if a real crisis comes, they are prepared.
With the space mission here, the EOC is especially important on launch days.
“Unplanned anomalies do happen, so you need the EOC ready to go on launch,” said Aftanas. “You don’t want to be recalling people and trying to gather them, because by that time you could have already lost the fight.”
With another successful launch under wraps, Team V appreciates those who bare the additional duty, and bring their knowledge to the EOC to protect the base during launches.
“Come a bad day, we need to be prepared to make the right calls to keep the base safe,” said Hunsberger. “The Emergency Operations Center personnel are poised and ready if that day were to come.”