American Red Cross representatives visit Edwards AFB

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Col. Ryan Blake, Air Force Test Pilot School commandant, provides a brief on variable stability aircraft used as part of schools's curriculum to members of the Central California and Los Angeles regional offices of the American Red Cross during their visit to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Nov. 18, 2019. (Air Force photograph by Giancarlo Casem)

Local representatives from the American Red Cross met with members of Edwards Emergency Management during a visit to, and tour of, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Nov. 18., 2019.

The 412th Test Wing hosted the visit which focused on establishing relationships between the Edwards Emergency Management personnel and local American Red Cross agencies.

“It was a great time for the Red Cross and the Air Force to learn what each other does in an emergency,” said Tony Briggs, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross, Central California Region. “And it was a great tour to see all of the assets on the Air Force base. The amount of teamwork that goes on the base every single day; there’s a lot of people that do a lot of great work here and it’s good to see that our nation is secure because of the people here on the base.”

Michael Feyerle, Chief of Emergency Management, said his biggest take away from the visit was receiving information regarding the upcoming update of the areas of responsibility that the Red Cross has developed regionally.

Early in 2020, the Los Angeles Region of the American Red Cross will transfer its support of Edwards personnel to the Central California Region team. The visit allows the new team to explain to the Edwards Emergency Management personnel the types of services they are able to render in a time of disaster.

According to the website, the Red Cross helps military members, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with, and respond to the challenges of military service. Emergency communications, training, support to wounded warriors and veterans, and access to community resources help an average of 150,000 military families and veterans annually.

“If there was a disaster in the local area, the Red Cross would work closely with the Air Force base to make sure that the personnel who live out in town are taken care of; so we want to make sure that we get to know one another before we need to know one another,” Briggs said. “It’s really good to understand what the limitations are so that we can work with them to help people who need things.”

Tony Briggs, chief executive officer, American Red Cross, Central California Region, provides a brief on his organization’s services and capabilities to members of the Edwards Emergency Management during a visit to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Nov. 18, 2019. The visit allowed local Red Cross representatives the chance to meet Edwards personnel they may work with in times of emergencies or natural disasters. (Air Force photograph by Giancarlo Casem)

Besides disaster relief services, the Red Cross also provides other services to the base. The Red Cross helps organize blood drives on the base and also provides health and safety courses. According to the Red Cross, it is the nation’s largest provider of health and safety courses such as CPR, first aid and lifeguard training.

The 412th Test Wing Inspector General’s Office and Emergency Management routinely conduct exercises on base ranging from natural disasters to other types of emergencies. During the visit, Briggs, Feyerle and Col. Kirk Reagan, the 412th Test Wing Vice Commander, all expressed an eagerness to possibly work together during upcoming exercises.

“To improve response efforts during a crisis it is always helpful to have met, and be able to put a face to a name prior to a crisis,” Feyerle said. “It also allows both agencies to discuss one another’s policies, response protocols and to work on developing communication plans as well as response plans.”

Briggs, being a Navy veteran himself, sees the benefit of strengthening partnerships and agrees with Feyerle’s sentiments.

“We are looking forward to working with the Air Force on any exercises that they do that could include the Red Cross,” Briggs said. “We would love to be able to show everyone how we do things as far as helping people, and we would love to be able to see how the Air Force takes care of its own.”