AFCEC helps students, “Be Ready”, to prepare them for disasters

  • Published
  • By By Brian Goddin
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Representatives from the Air Force Civil Engineer Center Emergency Management Division and the 325th Fighter Wing from Tyndall AFB, Fla., visited several northwest Florida youngsters between Sept. 25 and Oct. 4, to prepare them for a potential disaster.

The visits concluded with four elementary schools and more than 300 fifth-graders in the Panama City area of Bay County to educate on the importance of preparing for a disaster, in conjunction with National Preparedness Month and the “Be Ready” awareness campaign.

“It’s a lighthearted way to get kids involved,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Teresak, 325th Flight Readiness and EM noncommissioned officer in charge of EM plans, who managed the school initiative. “We ask them a bunch of fun questions, handed out prizes, and used interactive activity books to get these kids prepared for the possibility of a disaster and this is a great age for them to start.”

The program encourages students to start thinking about a family disaster plan.

“The kids have gotten an understanding of what can happen from a natural disaster perspective in their state and how to prepare for it, because I think when you’re young it’s really hard to feel a sense of control about some of these seemingly unexplainable kinds of events,” said Tech. Sgt. Amanda Given, AFCEC EM noncommissioned officer in charge of plans and publications. “When we talk about disaster kits and things like where to go and shelter, these are very important for students because it gives them a sense of how they can help themselves and their family.”

The team used a variety of interactive activities such as word searches and math puzzles to educate the students on hurricanes and typhoons. School officials also found the visit particularly helpful since the coastal location can put residents at higher risk for natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding and tornadoes.

“The students can now go home and share their books with their parents, talk about what they learned, and help their family plan a preparedness kit,” said Kimberly Hennessy, fifth grade teacher at Springfield Elementary. “They could also discuss how they would evacuate if they needed to and what they need to take with them, like extra cash and water.”

Springfield’s Principal, Russell Brock, believes the visits benefit students in many ways.

“Our children need all the positive influence and experience around professionals that they can get,” said Brock. “Educational lessons such as the one today, doubles the impact, so we are super excited.”

This is the second time in three years that AFCEC has partnered with the 325th to educate youth on disaster preparedness through the school visits.