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Personnel accountability key during emergencies

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 28, 2006) -- A new Air Force Instruction places more responsibility for personnel accountability on the shoulders of individual Airmen.

Air Force Instruction 10-218, Personnel Accountability in Conjunction With Natural Disasters or National Emergencies, published Oct. 31, 2006, details how an Airman should go about contacting his leadership if forced to evacuate after a natural disaster or terrorist event.

In the wake of a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, or any event that could separate an Airman from his or her unit, an Airman is required to use "all mechanisms available" to communicate his whereabouts to his unit control center or base command post.

If it is not possible to contact a unit by telephone, an Airman must contact Headquarters Air Force Personnel Center at (800) 435-9941 to report his whereabouts. Another option for an Airman is to register his location at the National Disaster Registry Web Application at https://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil.

The new instruction also requires each Airman to maintain "realistic and actionable" plans that detail what actions an Airman will take before, during and after a disaster or crisis. The plans must take into account both the military member and his dependants, and should be filed with an Airman's unit, said Maj. Timothy McIsaac from Air Force Personnel Readiness.

"After an earthquake, a hurricane or a terrorist attack, for instance, there may not be an opportunity to let your commander know where you plan to go," Major McIsaac said. "The time to plan is beforehand, and those plans need to be on file."

A unit commander may now require every Airman to keep a plan for him and his family on file, the same as is done with an emergency locator card, Major McIsaac said. Those plans could be as simple as listing the names and telephone numbers of family members, friends or others a member may turn to in an emergency.

In addition to spelling out the responsibilities of individual active duty Airmen in the wake of a disaster or crisis, the instruction also outlines the responsibilities Air National Guardsmen, Air Force reservists, Air Force civilians, and chain-of-command members all the way from the wing commander down to individual Airmen.

Air Force Instruction 10-218 can be found online at: http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/pubfiles/af/10/afi10-218/afi10-218.pdf.