YOKOSUKA, Japan -- The admiral in charge of all U.S. Naval installations in Japan recently hosted a forum in Yokosuka to discuss the region's refocus on emergency preparedness.
Rear Adm. Greg Fenton, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Japan and Navy Region Japan, held a town hall on board U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka, June 11, to inform Navy families about the importance of being prepared for disasters and emergency evacuations.
A key way for families to prepare for emergencies ranging from destructive tropical cyclones to armed conflicts, Fenton said at Yokosuka's Fleet Theater, is completing the Emergency Evacuation Program (EEP) packet. The EEP is a newly revamped bundle of documents that will serve as families' ticket out of Japan in the unlikely event that an evacuation is called for by the U.S. government.
"When you show up [to an evacuation point] and you hand that package to the person who's going to handle your transportation out of Japan, he or she will know exactly where to [look] in that package and get the information they need," Fenton said. "Names, total number of people, ages, passport information; all that stuff is already there."
Fenton's town hall in Yokosuka was the third stop on a countrywide tour of U.S. military installations in Japan.
Besides sharing information about disaster preparation and the EEP packet, the town hall gave Yokosuka families an opportunity to ask Fenton and other Navy leaders questions. The questions covered a number of topics including information about preparing kids for emergencies, school coordination and non-U.S. citizen spouses.
Navy spouse Karin Cestaro said she was drawn to the town hall to get emergency preparedness information from an official source, especially with typhoon season being here and natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions dominating television news, Facebook and spouse discussions.
"It brings questions to the forefront of everyone's mind. What happens when it's here?" Cestaro said.
Capt. Jeffrey Kim, Commanding Officer of Fleet Activities Yokosuka, was also on hand at the town hall and highlighted the importance of signing up for the Computer Desktop Notification System (CDNS), the key way for the Fleet Activities Yokosuka community to find out about emergencies.
CDNS is a multilayered system, Kim said at the event, allowing community members who sign up to receive simultaneous notifications to government computers, home, work and mobile telephones, and email.
"CDNS is the voice of this base, immediately alerting people to impending emergency situations," Kim said.
At the end of the event, Fenton acknowledged preparation - especially the EEP packet - may take time, but it's better to start chipping away at it now than waiting to fill out the paper work during an emergency.
"How ready are you?" Fenton asked. "That's really what I want the big takeaway [to be] here tonight."