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A better understanding of SIP, lockdown

Air Force Emergency Management specialists are trained for response and recovery operations anywhere in the world. These members develop plans for Air Force personnel to meet mission needs and minimize casualties in any disaster situation. (Courtesy photo)

Air Force Emergency Management specialists are trained for response and recovery operations anywhere in the world. These members develop plans for Air Force personnel to meet mission needs and minimize casualties in any disaster situation. (Courtesy photo)

Emergency notification signals indicate the actions one must take when in an exercise or real-world disaster situation. Listen carefully to the signals to ensure a quick and safe response. (Courtesy photo)

Emergency notification signals indicate the actions one must take when in an exercise or real-world disaster situation. Listen carefully to the signals to ensure a quick and safe response. (Courtesy photo)

During a Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear attack, or a Hazardous Material incident, it is imperative to seek shelter in an inner room with few or no windows. Seal any gaps or cracks that lead out of the room, minimalizing harmful elements. (Courtesy photo)

During a Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear attack, or a Hazardous Material incident, it is imperative to seek shelter in an inner room with few or no windows. Seal any gaps or cracks that lead out of the room, minimalizing harmful elements. (Courtesy photo)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- When a disaster strikes, it’s crucial to know the appropriate procedure to remain safe.

Unforeseeable situations could occur on base at any time, to include Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear attacks, natural disasters, Hazardous Materials such as toxic industrial chemicals, active shooters, and bomb threats.

All of these incidents require personnel to take protective actions including evacuation and/or sheltering-in-place. SIP means selecting a small interior room, with few or no windows, and taking refuge there.

“SIP is important because it is designed to save lives and keep people safe so they can continue on with the mission,” said Senior Airman Elliot Jones, 460th Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management journeyman.

If accidents do occur on base, information will be disseminated via Giant Voice System through the command post and/or email. It is essential to follow the instructions of authorities and know what to do if a SIP takes place.

“SIP could be anything from CBRN, HazMat or natural disasters,” said Jones. “Natural disaster SIP is something you’ve probably been taught in school or practiced your whole life. For example, if a tornado is coming, you want to do the same thing, find an interior, small room for shelter to protect yourself from debris.”

Base personnel should be aware of the SIP procedures in the buildings which they work. SIP for a CBRN or HazMat incident should have better protection from contamination, since the safe-room concept is designated to primarily minimize or eliminate any inhalation hazards. Natural disaster SIP should be somewhere in the lowest level of the building, in the innermost rooms without windows.

“Know how to identify the SIP sign,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Blackmon, 460th CES NCO in-charge of plans and operations. “The entrance of every building on base should have a map of SIP locations which may differ depending on the situation, like CBRN or a natural disaster.”

However, there is a difference between a SIP and a lockdown procedure. Unlike SIP, lockdowns require safeguarding from a person or explosive.

“SIP procedures for CBRN, HAZMAT or natural disasters, you go into a designated SIP room and seal the vents, take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture or do the necessary steps for the situation,” said Blackmon. “Lockdown procedures are for an active-shooter or bomb-threat situation. You don’t have to go into an SIP room for a lockdown. Go to the nearest room, close the door, and stay away from the door and turn the lights off.”

Active shooter situations are often over before first responders arrive on scene. For this reason, it is essential to take an active role in survival through quick and decisive individual actions. These actions are escape, barricade, and as a last resort, stand and fight.

With the help of emergency management representatives, all facility managers on base must develop specific procedures to implement SIP protection within their facility. Base exercises typically give opportunities to practice SIP or lockdown procedures, and should always be treated as if it were a real-world scenario.

“Practice and don’t panic are the two biggest things when in an SIP situation, and practicing will help you not panic,” said Jones. “You don’t want to wait until something happens to try and figure things out. You should always have a plan.”
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