Staff Sgt. Nathan Sisk, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management technician, helps Michael Mercer, National Weather Service member, place date stickers onto Malmstrom’s StormReady® signs. The base was certified as StormReady® on May 3 and two signs will be posted at each gate respectively signifying the accomplishment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton)
Staff Sgt. Nathan Sisk, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management technician, and Dave Chandler, 341st CES sign shop member, hang a StormReady® sign on a post near the base’s front gate. This StormReady® certification properly signifies that Malmstrom Air Force Base has the capabilities to keep it’s community aware of and safe from significant inclement weather changes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton)
Members of the 341st CES emergency management team listen as Col. Angela Stout, 341st Mission Support Group commander, far right, addresses them on the importance of the recent StormReady® certification during a sign-posting ceremony June 8. The base was certified May 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton)
by Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
6/21/2012 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Montana can sometimes be infamous for its inconsistent weather changes and the dangers that come with them. So for Team Malmstrom members, it's important to know when there's hazardous weather in the forecast.
Malmstrom Air Force Base was certified as StormReady® on May 3 due to a combination of efforts from the base's emergency management and weather teams. A ceremony was conducted June 8 to present several emergency management Airmen two StormReady® signs, which will be posted at each gate.
A StormReady® certification ensures that communities, whether a city, county or installation, are equipped to alert their population of weather threats.
"I speak of the broader base because I always see your convoys on the roads so I know you're out and about," said Michael Mercer, National Weather Service member. "[Threats in] general are - not just for Great Falls - wind, severe weather, hail, tornadoes, winter storms, flooding and probably extreme cold. Those are probably the biggest threats for [Montana]."
According to the StormReady® website, www.stormready.noaa.gov, "Some 90 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather-related, leading to around 500 deaths per year and nearly $14 billion in damage." By having this certification, Malmstrom can help prevent the loss of life and injuries to Airmen as well as avoid some damage from weather-related incidents.
"Anybody entering this base is going to see those signs," said Staff Sgt. Nathan Sisk, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management technician. "Next to preparedness, this is about education. People are going to see [the signs] and they're going to know we're storm ready and that this base has done what it can. And if they don't know, they're going to start asking questions."
Prior to the certification, Malmstrom had several strategies in place to disseminate weather-related information to the base populace; these included the weather notification pop-ups and emails, and giant voice capabilities. The certification included an evaluation of the base on 17 requirements, each based on population, that were all associated with the distribution of weather-related information to the Airmen on Malmstrom.
"The requirements are based off dissemination and how [the community] receives information," Mercer said. "Do you have weather radios or a website? Do you have strategic locations that are set up to receive information so you're constantly aware? Do you have an EOC? How do you get to know weather radio, or how do you get alerts or warnings? There are just requirements to make sure you can receive information and then you can disseminate it."
Malmstrom is only the 33rd military site to be certified StormReady®, and only the 10th active-duty Air Force base, according to the StormReady® website.
"Because it's a military installation, there is a sense of pride that we're doing a little piece to help protect those who protect us," Mercer said. "It lets me know that the base is prepared and they take preparedness seriously and that the people that serve our country are being protected. Malmstrom can rest assured that their emergency responders on base are watching out for them."
"This is going to have lasting effects," Sisk added. "We've protected the people of this base."