Everything you've always wanted to know about hurricanes but were afraid to ask: AFPAAS

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. William Banton
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This is part four in a five-part series on hurricane preparedness.

For approximately half the year, hurricanes have the potential to dramatically affect the lives of every Hurlburt Field Airman, making preparation highly important.

However, even the most prepared Air Commando cannot fully account for the chaos and unpredictability brought on by a hurricane.

So how are Airmen expected to inform their chain of command of their whereabouts when the base is at hurricane condition 1, and they have been evacuated more than 100 miles away?

The Air Force Personnel Accountability and Assessment System is the answer.

AFPAAS provides Air Force personnel (active duty, reservists, DoD civilians and their families,) a tool to report vital information such as their current location and updated emergency contact information during natural or man-made disasters.

By accurately and regularly reporting information in AFPAAS, users provide commanders and supervisors the ability to correctly account for their personnel during an emergency.

According to Robert Phillips, 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron chief of Information Personnel Management, AFPAAS is highly dependent on the user updating their information.

"It's sort of like the emergency data card," said Phillips. "We tell everybody to keep the emergency data card updated, but do they? A lot of times, they are reluctant or they don't do it or they forget to do it."

The system also enables users in affected areas to request assistance. When individuals log on to AFPAAS to verify and update their information, they will be asked to complete an assessment survey.

The survey inquires if Airmen and their dependents need help during an emergency and asks questions regarding their status, lodging and transportation. At any point, the user can provide comments to leave further information. Once the needs assessment is completed, an Airman & Family Readiness Center representative is notified to contact the individuals needing assistance.

According to Master Sgt. Natalie Sockman, A&FRC Readiness NCO in charge, during the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, her office received three AFPAAS notifications from individuals who relocated to the area around Hurlburt Field during a volunteer civilian evacuation.

"I called to find out how they were doing and to make sure they were doing all right," Sockman said. "They were fine and didn't need any help, but they knew where to call if they did. That's what we do. We make contact, and if they don't need help right away, we at least give them our information so they can use it."

AFPAAS requires the user to have access to an internet connection. However, during a hurricane, access may be limited. In case of this event, the AFPAAS official website has these suggestions:

- Try contacting family members or friends and ask them to update your information for you. They will require the military sponsor's Social Security number and his or her date of birth.

- Keep a look out for public computer access that may be available at community centers, emergency shelters, airports, schools, libraries and local businesses.

- Request assistance from relief agencies, local authorities and other community service organizations to help relay your status to your chain of command.

- Finally, you may be able to contact your unit by phone through these organizations:
- Air Force Family Hot Line 800-435-9941
- Military One Source 800-342-9647
- Air Force Personnel Readiness Cell 800-435-9941
- AFPAAS Help Desk 866-946-9183

For more information on hurricanes and hurricane survival, visit the Hurlburt Field hurricane page at www.hurlburt.af.mil/library/hurricane.