Exercise tests emergency evacuation procedures with base community

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tristan Truesdell
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

An emergency evacuation program exercise concluded at Yokota Middle School April 8, 2024, with participants involving family and community members.

The school was converted into an emergency evacuation facility manned by agencies with a single goal: transporting loved ones out of a dangerous environment to safety as efficiently as possible.

“We are going through all the motions of an actual emergency evacuation program if it were to be stood up,” said Master Sgt. Michael Cooper, 374th Force Support Squadron emergency control center NCOIC. “With that, we are also working out any kinks to ensure we’re prepared if an evacuation happens.”

The exercise served as a method for community members to practice evacuation procedures, ensuring everyone is prepared in the event of a short-notice evacuation. Through mock processing lines, participants were able to verify if their critical information is up-to-date and on-hand like passports, personal property documentation and other legal documents.

“Through the EEP we can identify the strengths and weaknesses of every agency involved and it proves how we can provide help for our community members in the event an evacuation occurs,” said Danny Dela Dingco, 374th Force Support Squadron work and family life consultant. “We have agencies like the Red Cross, finance, Chaplain Corps, mental health, military and family life counselors, human resources and so much more to ensure our community feels secured and squared away before evacuating.”

“It’s critical to stay prepared to ensure your EEP folders are current and up-to-date,” said Dela Dingco. “History is bound to repeat itself, such as the big earthquake back in 2011 leading to Operation TOMODACHI.”

In Japan, residents are prone to natural occurrences at a frequent rate due to its location in the Ring of Fire. The most notable was a 9.0 magnitude earthquake in 2011, where it occurred off the northern coast of Japan and led to a massive tsunami resulting in thousands of deaths and millions in property damage, earning recognition as one of the worst natural disasters in Japan’s history. This event established the U.S. Forces Japan humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operation, dubbed Operation TOMODACHI.

“An EEP is something everyone needs, but we don’t really think about it until the time comes or it's too late,” said Cooper. “The point of an EEP is giving people a peace of mind so they know exactly what to do and what they need instead of scrambling in an already chaotic time.

“Take that time to be prepared,” he added. “Just moved on station? Take all those processing documents that got you and your family here, put it in a to-go bag and re-evaluate it each year.”

For more information regarding evacuation processes, reach out to unit EEP warden or visit the Emergency Evacuation Plan page.