Malmstrom’s emergency management: Are you ready?

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- When it comes to preparedness, one can never be too ready for a crisis; whether it’s a flash flood, tornado or earthquake – would you be ready if a natural disaster struck tomorrow?

As part of this year’s America’s PrepareAthon!, held every spring and fall, the 341st Civil Engineer Squadron’s readiness and emergency management flight is hosting different events around base to help spread awareness and get Airmen and their families the information they need so they are ready for any disaster Montana may throw at them.

To help share this preparedness awareness the emergency management flight will be holding several information booths at the Exchange, commissary and Grizzly Bend but awareness doesn’t stop there.

Airman 1st Class Kelly LeMoine, 341st CES readiness and emergency management flight apprentice, said the goal for the campaign is simple. It’s used to build a more resilient community by increasing awareness and teaches some basics in what to do to be safe and mitigate damage. It also gives individuals tools on how to take action to increase their preparedness.

According to LeMoine, the keys to preparedness are being aware of the threats, having a kit, making a plan and being ready for anything.

“People always think it’s something that couldn’t happen to them, kind of like winning the lottery, but people win the lottery all the time so why not be prepared,” LeMoine said.

Airman 1st Class Ismael Zayas Ramos, 341st CES readiness and emergency management flight apprentice, said one of the easiest things people can do is to have a 72-hour ready kit in their homes.

Some basic items needed in the kit are:

• Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
• Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio and extra batteries for both
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit and manual
• Whistle to signal for help
• Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Manual can opener for food
• Local maps
• Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

According to, Montana has experienced everything from wildfires and flooding to earthquakes and landslides. Here is a breakdown of some of the more recent incidents.

The 2012 fire season was the most devastating season on record since 1910 in the state of Montana. Approximately 1.1 million acres burned across the state with the suppression efforts costing over $113 million. In June 2012, the Ash Creek fire exploded in Rosebud and Powder River counties. The fire burned 249,562 acres, making this the largest fire of the year. The fire burned 39 structures, including homes on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation and cost $7.5 million to suppress.

A Major Disaster Declaration was declared by President Barack Obama June 17, 2011, for the State of Montana. Flooding resulting from heavy rains and snow melt from record snow occurred throughout the state. Damages were estimated at over $60 million statewide.

The Hebgen Lake magnitude 7.5 earthquake, which occurred August 18, 1959, was the largest earthquake in Montana and the 14th largest earthquake in the contiguous U.S. in historic times (Stover and Coffman, 1993). The earthquake caused 29 fatalities and about $11 million in damage to highways and timber. The most spectacular and disastrous effect of the earthquake was the huge landslide of rock, soil and trees that cascaded from the steep south wall of Madison River Canyon, creating the 174 foot deep Quake Lake.

Former Governor Brian Schweitzer declared a state of emergency after the largest tornado to hit the city of Billings in more than 50 years peeled the roof off of a sports arena, causing millions of dollars in damage June 20, 2013. No deaths or major injuries were reported. Wind speeds from the tornado were estimated at 111 to 135 mph. The winds damaged homes and snapped trees and telephone poles. The twister hovered for about 15 minutes over the Metra Arena.

A rain-on-snow event in March 2005 caused a mudslide that severely damaged more than 12 miles of U.S. Highway 212 outside of Red Lodge, Montana. The road is a crucial link to Yellowstone National Park. An executive order was issued declaring an emergency for Carbon County. The $15.2 million repair involved excavating rock and slide debris as well as the addition of rock fall fences.

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