CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- Members of the Camp Zama community learned what they can do to prepare for emergencies during a Community Information Exchange here May 10.
"There are just all kinds of questions that you've got to ask yourself, and it's a very serious situation that could happen at any time, especially here," said U.S. Army Japan (USARG) Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson during the event at the Camp Zama Community Club. "I want to make sure that everybody understands that."
USARJ and U.S. Army Garrison Japan officials organized the event to not only prepare for disasters but for the upcoming Emergency Evacuation Program (EEP) muster at the club May 20 to 22. They emphasized that it is not a matter of "if" an emergency will happen, but "when," and that this is largely because of the earthquakes, typhoons and volcano eruptions that take place in Japan.
Maj. Gen. Viet Luong, USARJ commander, said emergency preparedness is an extremely serious subject, and he encouraged everyone to listen carefully to the event's speakers and ask questions at the information tables.
The emergency preparedness speakers included Beeson; Lt. Col. Paul Goyne, emergency evacuation program manager for USARJ; and Paul Fameli, chief of plans and operations, USAG Japan. They encouraged everyone to make sure families have their emergency evacuation packets, go bags and emergency kits in order.
"Everyone has to play a part to succeed or we will fail; and instead of going smoothly, it's just a miserable time," Beeson said.
Goyne said his target audience is those who would evacuate during a disaster, and he wants them to make sure their emergency evacuation packets, which contain all the critical information necessary for evacuation, and go bags are ready for the upcoming drill.
"If you are a (Department of the Army) civilian, a contractor, assigned or attached to USARJ and have (Status of Forces Agreement) status, guess what? The program applies to you," Goyne said. "Myself and emergency-essential DA civilians, anyone wearing this uniform, the program isn't about us. Our target audience is our family members and our potential evacuees like (Department of Defense Educational Activity) teachers and staff members."
The program's lynchpin is the EEP wardens, Goyne said, and unit commanders need to select a primary and an alternate in writing, and the wardens need to make sure everyone assigned to a unit has a packet completed within 30 days of arrival into the country.
"Family members, what you have to do is prepare your packet in conjunction with your warden," Goyne said. "Get a go bag or an emergency kit. It's really simple. There are all kinds of examples of what right looks like all around the stage."
Fameli said the upcoming drill aims for 100 percent accountability, and the only exceptions are those on temporary duty assignment or on leave, and even they will have to show their EEP wardens they are prepared.
Fameli held up his EEP packet and go bag for the audience.
"This is my personal go bag for a family of three," Fameli said. "This will sustain my family for 72 hours while we're transiting to the airport at Yokota (Air Base) or (Naval Air Facility) Atsugi."
In addition to the speakers, representatives from 16 Camp Zama organizations, which included Army Community Service, the American Red Cross and the veterinary clinic, had tables set up so attendees could ask questions. At one table, people could register for the AtHOC emergency message system.
At the Emergency Evacuation Program wardens table, Mike Dahle, an occupational safety and health specialist, used his personal go bags as examples.
One kit, for his wife, would sustain her for five days and included a solar cell so she could charge her cellphone, Dahle said. Another, in case he had family visiting, would sustain four people for three days.
Dahle said he always makes sure he keeps an emergency kit in his vehicle and he encourages others to do the same.
"It's important to be prepared because (responders are) going to react fast to bring in the supplies, food, water and stuff, but you don't know where you're going to be when this happens, and you don't know if you're going to be able to get back," Dahle said.
The evening wasn't all seriousness, however.
Organizers provided food, members of the USARJ Band played, and Luong, Beeson and Col. Phil Gage, commander of USAG Japan, recognized members of the Zama Middle High School girls' basketball team for winning this year's Division II championship; Johanna Robinson for being the volunteer of the year; and the Zama Community Spouses Association for being the volunteer facility of the year.
Rick Bosch, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the evening's master of ceremonies, said the basketball team showed incredible improvement this year and brought home the school's first girls' basketball championship banner.
"They went from 10th place last year to champions this year, and probably the most impressive stat line on this team has nothing to do with athletics," Bosch said. "The average (grade point average) of the entire team is a 3.4, just above, so they are incredible students as well as athletes."