The people behind THE GIANT VOICE
By Senior Airman Joe McFadden, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 29, 2013
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --
It's 11:59 a.m. on a typical Friday at Hurlburt Field.
You're walking to the Base Exchange with ideas for lunch as well as what you want to do with your friends for this weekend getaway.
All of a sudden, you freeze in your steps as you hear a loud booming voice, seemingly coming from an opening in the skies.
You look around in panic, but notice everyone else keeps moving about their business, undisturbed.
You relax... but then you're convinced of one thing: the voice can only be heard by you.
Was it something you did? Did you forget your reflective belt? Does this voice belong to the Person whom you think it belongs to?
"THIS. IS. THE. COMMAND. POST," the voice says.
'Whew.... Close call,' you may think. 'Still hope no one asks to see my reflective belt.'
While this line of thinking may go through some people's minds on their first Friday at noon on a military installation, the regularly-scheduled weekly tests of the sirens are just tests run by the command post for readiness.
And just like those siren tests are used for readiness, the purpose behind the Giant Voice is made for a similar reason.
"Safety is the big issue, and we are prepared for anything," said Airman 1st Class Timothy Kimball, a junior emergency actions controller with 1st Special Operations Wing Command Post. "We have a checklist for everything that goes on from lightning warnings, flag conditions and active-shooters."
The process begins when 1 SOW/CP staff receive a notification from base weather or security forces. Command Post then relays the message via pop-up alerts throughout all base computers. And for the benefit of those people who may not be at their desk, the giant voice is used via a small microphone within the Command Post.
While the Giant Voice can be heard booming throughout the base and outside the gates, there are still set times for when it will be used. For example, only the speakers on the flightline and hangars will be used during hours of darkness for those working on swing shifts outside.
"If there's an active-shooter scenario or a crisis, we want to warn the base and people to stay protected," Kimball said. "We hope people pay attention, because if it's on the giant voice, it is important."
Many may have noticed the distinctive speech pattern employed by the Giant Voice speakers. It's not meant to sound like a robot bent on extermination, but Kimball said it's used for a more practical reason.
"If we said it too fast, no one would understand us at all," Kimball said. "There are a dozen loud speakers and the noise will bounce off each other. Unless we speak slowly, it will sound garbled and the message would be lost."
Kimball said the history of the military employing the Giant Voice goes back beyond the World War era when sirens would be sounded to alert the civilian population to take cover and bugle calls to announce military advances for armies on the field.
While those wars may be long behind the Air Force of today, the importance of the Giant Voice and the work of the Command Post personnel continue on every time you hear the announcement and at any time.
"Please pay attention - the information is really important," Kimball said. "You may be annoyed or may tune it out, but when a crisis or emergency happens, the information could save your life."