JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
A crisis action team, or CAT, operating from Joint Base Andrews, Md., ensured continuity of operations and accountability for more than 1,000 Airmen who participated in the 58th Presidential Inauguration in the District of Columbia, Jan. 20, 2017.
The Airmen, positioned downtown, performed various support roles ranging from street cordons and parade marchers to medical first responders and security personnel. With so many moving parts during such a large-scale event, these kinds of activities may involve sudden situations or emergencies that require on-the-spot decision making.
Enter the CAT.
“The purpose of the CAT is to conduct command and control of all Air Force personnel and resources during national special security events, like the inauguration, so as to respond quickly and decisively to contingency situations, while maintaining the safety and security of our people,” said Col. Julie Grundahl, 11th Wing and JBA vice commander and one of the CAT’s most senior-ranking members.
As the inauguration parade and ceremony unfolded, the CAT monitored and coordinated Airmen’s movements and activities throughout multiple geographic areas in the District.
“We maintain a 30,000 square foot sight picture of our area of responsibility in downtown Washington, D.C.,” Grundahl said. “This picture allows us to make operational decisions that take all facets of the situation and landscape into account.”
Maj. John Alsbrooks, 11th Wing plans and programs director and a CAT director, led team operations during incident responses and facilitated the sharing of information among team members to build situational awareness during the inauguration.
“This access to information allows each CAT member to make timely and accurate decisions that impact their respective areas of responsibility,” Alsbrooks said.
He added that the CAT’s members prepared for several months leading up to the inauguration by running exercises and full-force rehearsals enabling the CAT to respond effectively to at least one incident involving an Airman who fainted during the inauguration parade.
“[When the Airman passed out], the CAT staff coordinated with on-scene medical forces to track the status and whereabouts of injured personnel, ensuring treatment and accountability,” said Lt. Col. David Fink, 11th Wing command post director.
A high-publicized event like a presidential inauguration provides Air Force members the opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism, discipline and “esprit de corps” for their fellow citizens and the incoming commander in chief. To do this, Airmen who participated most visibly had contingency response support from the CAT, whose less-visible members worked to ensure the Airmen were safe, secure and organized.
The CAT consisted of members from every major mission partner within JBA.
“Representation from our partners and key support agencies is a critical component to the CAT's success,” Grundahl said. “It was awesome to see that teamwork in action the day of the inauguration."
The CAT members included the 11th Wing’s Judge Advocate, Public Affairs, Chaplain, Command Post, Historian Office, Logistics Readiness Squadron, Operations, Security Forces and Mission Support Groups. Other CAT members represented the 459th Air Refueling Wing, 844th Communications Group, 113th Wing D.C. Air National Guard, 79th Medical Wing and the Office of Special Investigations.