In an effort to minimize the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 and to prioritize the health and safety of all base personnel and members of its communities, base officials formed a COVID-19 Incident Command Center (ICC) March 23 at the Wright-Patterson Medical Center.
Led by Lt. Col. (Dr.) Hui Ling Li, base public health officer, as the incident commander, and advised by base Fire Chief Jacob King, the ICC is comprised of subject matter experts from other areas of responsibility such as Public Health, Operations, Planning, Logistics, Security Forces, Finance, and Administration.
The ICC coordinates information and requests with the base Emergency Operations Center, Crisis Action Team, installation leadership, first responders, and medical officials as they continue to work closely with the Ohio Department of Health to coordinate prevention and response efforts in the local area.
“The Incident Command Center will enable our installation to be more effective in managing this public health emergency through a unified command and control structure,” said Li. “It will help us better coordinate efforts and manage resources among all base organizations, local, state and national partners. Installation leadership and I are confident that having the ICC will enable our base to weather this public health emergency.”
Although the organizational response structure is foundationally the same as previously used for incident response actions, this event requires a larger team of personnel to manage the incident that could potentially last months versus hours.
“There has never been an incident of this magnitude at this installation,” said King. “Our training has prepared us for this type of event, and we are able to effectively manage this event as a unified, multifunctional team.”
Col. Thomas Sherman, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, visited the ICC March 24 to provide his leadership perspective and let the ICC know the great respect he has for the people stepping forward to support the team and their actions the ICC will need to take going forward.
“We oftentimes will say that hope is not a course of action. And albeit, that is true,” Sherman told the ICC. “If the only thing you build your plan on is the hope that it would get completed, that’s a tough thing to put all of your stock in. However, hope is a force multiplier. In any situation, what hope does can be making the difference between despair and failure and anticipation and drive to get to success.”
There are many people that call Wright-Patterson home in one way, shape or form, whether they are connected by work, by affiliation or by family.
“The one thing that is going through all of their minds right now is angst and fear. What this structure does and what every single one of you in this room are doing right now is adding hope as a force multiplier into the aspect that we can, and will get through this, because of what you’re doing,” said Sherman.
“It’s going to bring stability, it’s going to bring a process, and it’s going to mean that when the wave hits us, we are already anchored in a strong foundation that our collective knowledge and calm is going to make sure that the rest of this installation will have that collective knowledge and calm, and hope, in that case, will see us through. Thank you for having the courage to lean forward to say, ‘This is what we need to do,’” Sherman said
With three confirmed cases of coronavirus among base personnel and dependents identified as of March 21, the ICC continues working hard to ensure that solid foundation is in place to see the installation and its people through the storm.
“We are dealing with a complex problem that requires new support and sustainment to effectively mitigate this large-scale event, with our community safety as our number one priority,” said King.
To stay up-to-date on the latest information on COVID-19, go to the Wright-Patterson AFB COVID-19 information page at www.wpafb.af.mil/coronavirus. The page is continuously updated as new information is being received.
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