By 2nd Lt. Darren Domingo
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
OK Team 5-0, many memes surface throughout the year warning “winter is coming,” popularized by the HBO show “Game of Thrones.” But alas, I say to you, winter is upon us.
Winter weather can occur quickly and without much warning.
For this reason, it’s crucial that Schriever personnel understand Snow Call procedures in the event of harsh weather conditions. Additionally, there is an alert service many know about, but do not fully utilize — the AtHoc system.
First, a friendly reminder about Snow Call.
Schriever personnel can access the Schriever Snow Call at 719-567-SNOW (7669) as well as find online procedures at www.schriever.af.mil and clicking the “Snow Call” tab under “quick links.” Members can hear information on current road conditions or snow call decisions by calling the Snow Call line.
50th Space Wing Leadership will determine actions to be taken during harsh weather conditions. Factors used to determine safety include: road conditions (green, yellow, red, black), snow or ice accumulation, visibility, weather forecast and the ability to access Schriever parking lots and buildings.
The 50th Space Wing Instruction 36-3801 explains personnel should be personally vigilant in assessing risk to stay safe when traveling.
According to 50 SWI 36-3801, 2.13.1., “Personnel residing and/or working on Schriever AFB are responsible for practicing Operational Risk Management at all times. ‘Road Condition’ designations provide a tool for personal risk assessment concerning decisions to travel to and off the installation.”
The Snow Call procedures listed online also explain travel conditions when roads are hazardous or impassable. The 50th Space Wing commander could declare early release, base closure and delayed reporting based on current/forecasted conditions.
Early release allows non-mission essential and non-emergency personnel to depart their work location at a specified time before the end of the official duty day. Commanders are encouraged to release their personnel in waves according to zip code in order to prevent traffic back-up.
During a base closure, Schriever military members and Department of Defense civilians are not permitted to come or go from the base. Mission essential personnel will remain in place until their replacements can safely make it to base and relieve them. All Schriever AFB events are cancelled until further notice.
For delayed reporting, non-mission essential and/or non-emergency essential personnel are not to report earlier than 9 a.m.
Tech. Sgt. Alejandro Torres, 50th Space Wing occupational safety manager, explained that Snow Calls are crucial for the civil engineering squadron to pave a way for mission to continue.
“The reason for the snow calls is to allow CE to do their jobs and clear out roads to allow you to come into work and do your jobs,” he said.
To find more details about Snow Call procedures, refer to 50 SWI 36-3801, or find the link at http://www.schriever.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=19430.
Furthermore, Team 5-0 also has access to instant communication regarding the latest updates through AtHoc. AtHoc is an alert messaging system that instantly brings you in the loop.
“AtHoc allows for the rapid transmission of emergency notifications to affected personnel,” said Staff Sgt. Curtis Lemay, Colorado Springs Regional Command Post. “I think the ability to tailor notifications down to specific users or offices could have very practical uses, but the system is only effective if users have configured their profiles.”
This system is designed to send mass alerts using desktop pop-ups, emails, texts and voicemails. The alerts are particularly handy when base closures and delays occur. In order to ensure everyone is receiving the messages, members need to make sure their information is uploaded correctly into the system.
Lemay explained although there has been a recent uptick in adoption rates, less than 20 percent of all registered users have provided contact information for either work or personal devices.
Schriever personnel should keep their AtHoc contact information and messaging preferences up-to-date. One can do so by finding the AtHoc icon at the bottom right of their taskbar by clicking on the “Show hidden icons” button and clicking on the purple AtHoc sphere. A menu will pop up and the member can click “Update my device info.”
It is important for base personnel to understand AtHoc is a bridge between them and the installation commander. It’s a feature that could save lives, explained Lemay.
“From base closures to active shooters to wing recalls, this central node has the capability to keep personnel both informed and accounted for,” said Lemay. “We can actually track if, when and from what device users are acknowledging notifications. In a real-world emergency, where acknowledgment from all personnel is often time-critical, this feature could be the difference between life and death.”
Staying safe while accomplishing the mission are legitimate issues that arise during the winter.
“It’s that balance between risk management and mission,” said Torres. “We don’t want to stop the mission, but we do want to mitigate risks and make sure everyone stays safe.”
Be sure to “like” or check into the Schriever Air Force Base Facebook page regularly this winter season for the most up-do-date weather updates/travel conditions.