When Team is More than a Word

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Callie McNary
  • Public Affairs

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. – The name “Team March” was put to the test on May 16, 2019, outside of March Air Reserve Base, California, when an F-16 impacted the ground. Reserve Citizen Airmen and their Air National Guard (ANG) counterparts, local first responders, and the surrounding community rushed to assist as details emerged from the incident.

“I’m extremely proud of the Airmen in our wing. We really pulled together to accomplish the mission and put our training to good use. I’m also very grateful to our local community partners and first responders,” said Col. Melissa Coburn, 452nd Air Mobility Wing commander, of the coordinated response. “They have a long track record of support. They responded immediately last week and they continue to be supportive and engaged in recovery operations.”

Within 24 hours an Incident Command Center (ICC) was in place at the impact site, and together the men and women of the Air Force Reserve, ANG, and local emergency responders began coordinating a unified response.

The ICC is established to mobilize resources and communication with minimal disruption to normal operations. Additionally, it is comprised of various personnel across military and local government agencies.

Out of the ICC, agencies like the Riverside County Fire Department worked side-by-side with March Field Fire and Emergency Services into the weekend as the situation evolved.

Additionally, local businesses and restaurants unselfishly donated their time and sustenance to first responders and military personnel aiding in recovery efforts.

Team March, a concept where the base community hoped to work as a total force, became a reality with every donated bottle of water handed to someone hard at work at recovery efforts. Military, city and county uniforms blurred together as first responders worked together with safety first at the forefront.

All the joint training, master and mutual aid contracts and strategic communication plans over the years paid off as critical information was passed efficiently between military and civilian teams. There was no time for confusion and everyone understood his or her part.

 “California’s master and mutual aid contracts allow us to work well with other fire departments in the area, and due to the close proximity of the 452nd AMW Fire Department we are able to train with them on a regular basis,” said Jeff LaRusso, public information officer, Riverside County Fire Department. “That training shows during something like this, and shows a good working relationship between both agencies.”

As Team March continues to work diligently with local business owners on the way forward, there is a renewed understanding of what that name really means. For the men and women involved in this incident Team March has become more than a word, and has expanded to include our civilian counterparts. It’s community, it’s working long hours, it’s keeping each other safe and it’s resiliency!