Team Edwards sends earthquake response to nearby base

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Following two earthquakes that rocked California’s High Desert, Team Edwards provided emergency crews to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake near Ridgecrest, Calif., recently.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the first temblor struck at 10:33 a.m. on July 4 with a 6.4 magnitude and is now considered a foreshock. A second quake shook the area the following day at 8:20 p.m. with a stronger 7.1 magnitude. Estimated economic losses of what the USGS now calls, the Searles Quake, are at least $1 billion, furthermore, the air control tower at Plant 42 was also damaged; the exact extent of that damage is still under review.

The USGS calls it the strongest seismic activity in more than 20 years. Following both quakes, Edwards Air Force Base emergency crews surveyed local buildings for damage.

“Crews maintained their posture locally after the (July 4th) earthquake; responders went through the base looking for damage during that time,” said Fire Chief Timothy Johnson, Edwards AFB Fire and Emergency Services. “(Then) I received a request from NAS China Lake Fire Department to help support in damage assessment, fire suppression, and accountability of any lost personnel.”

A portion of Highway 178 near Ridgecrest is damaged following two earthquakes July 4 and 5, as seen from a Blackhawk helicopter. (USGS photograph)

The Edwards response consisted of a fire engine company, a rescue company and a division chief, Johnson said.

Brig. Gen. E. John Teichert, 412th Test Wing commander, commended the Team Edwards response locally at Edwards and Plant 42, as well as in support of NAS China Lake.

“After the quakes … our Defender, firefighter and civil engineer teams went out to do initial damage assessment to ensure Edwards and Plant 42 was safe and secure, we immediately established communications with Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake and they didn’t need anything from us after the Thursday quake, but they needed our help on Friday,” Teichert said. “And immediately we deployed a fire and rescue team to work throughout the night and morning to do their initial response and emergency response for what they needed at NAS China lake.”

Besides emergency first-responders, Team Edwards also deployed structural, electrical and plumbing engineers to NAS China Lake. The base also underwent preparations in the event the Federal Emergency Management Agency needed to use Edwards as a staging base.

Teichert thanked Team Edwards for their actions in a video message he released through social media.

“Thank you so much for being part of an incredible team. On a four-day weekend, you demonstrated your genuine concern for others, your professionalism, and perfectly described some of those principles in the National Defense Strategy; like full-spectrum readiness and partnering with joint teams,” Teichert said. “Thank you so much for what you do, every single day.”