From the Helm: Are you and your family ready?

By Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich, commander,  Coast Guard 13th District

Coast Guard crews at Air Station Astoria, Ore., perform maintenance on an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter in the station’s hangar Jan. 28, 2015.  Air Station Astoria is home to three Jayhawk helicopters and is co-located with Sector Columbia River based at the Warrenton-Astoria Regional Airport in Warrenton, Ore.

Coast Guard crews at Air Station Astoria, Ore., perform maintenance on an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter in the station’s hangar Jan. 28, 2015.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley.

We have had a marvelous winter here in the Pacific Northwest with clear days and record high temperatures. However, we cannot be complacent. Stormy seas will come again and the bar will again become treacherous. As members of the Coast Guard it is imperative that we live Semper Paratus. Any number of hazards has the potential to disrupt the communities that we serve. As first responders we must be ready to go out when everyone else is hunkering down and bracing for an event. A key component of readiness is accountability and family preparedness.

During the week of April 13 both the 11th and 13th Districts will be conducting an accountability drill using the Coast Guard Personnel Accountability and Assessment System or CGPAAS. The goal of this drill is to account for 100 percent of the 13th District Coast Guard Family within 72 hours.

Preparedness plays a large role in our ability to respond. There are three essential steps for family preparedness. Be informed, make a plan and build a kit. We must anticipate and learn about the disasters in our region such as earthquakes, mudslides, and tsunamis. As Benjamin Franklin so wisely said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

Chief Warrant Officer Beth Slade, a crewmember aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, hugs her children after the ship's arrival at Coast Guard Base Seattle, July 28, 2014. While patrolling the Aleutian Islands, the crew came to the aid of a fishing vessel crew following an engineroom fire. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class George Degener)

Chief Warrant Officer Beth Slade, a crewmember aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, hugs her children after the ship’s arrival at Coast Guard Base Seattle, July 28, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class George Degener.

Talk to your family about muster locations and keep a valid out of area contact on file. Planning ahead for emergencies will improve your chances of keeping in touch, staying safe and quickly reuniting. Finally, make a kit with the supplies you and your family will need for at least three days following a crisis.

Here in 13th District our people are our most valuable asset. After a major event in the region it is imperative that we know the status of all Coast Guard personnel in the region. Coast Guardsmen in the area of responsibility must be able to quickly report as required and know that their families are safe and secure.

CGPAAS tracks members and their dependents in an affected area. It allows a command to quickly determine where personnel are and who needs assistance. During the drill, all active duty, reserve, and civilian employees will be issued an Order to Account via CGPAAS. This OTA will require a response from all personnel. Members will receive the OTA via email, phone, and/or text message. Individuals can report by responding to any of the alert methods or by logging onto https://cgpaas.uscg.mil. Additionally, members are required to account for their dependents. In order to account for dependents, the Coast Guard member can respond directly to the alert or log onto the system to account. Auxiliary personnel will be accounted for during the drill using standard Auxiliary accounting procedures.

www.ready.gov is a great resource for personnel to prepare for emergencies. I urge you to take the time to learn more about preparedness. Sit down with your family and talk about where your emergency kit is located and how you will reunite after a disaster.

I look forward to achieving 100 percent accountability during our drill in April. Each 13th District unit has a designated command level member with access to CGPAAS and accountability procedures in place. Please take the time to reach out to your designated unit representatives or my preparedness officer, Lt. Laura Springer, laura.m.springer@uscg.mil, 206-220-7132 should you have questions concerning CGPAAS or family preparedness.

Tags: , , , , , ,