A typical day at the "office" for Airman 1st Class Eric Reist is keeping one of the largest military bases in the United States in safe, working order. Stationed with the 316th Wing at Joint Base Andrews near Washington D.C., Reist works in Emergency Management-Plans and Operations.
A 2006 master's of criminal justice graduate, Reist is one of 15 specialists on base trained to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive threats or emergencies. "On a given day, we're prepared for any number of disasters that could impact the base, the local national capital, or the many dignitaries we have coming in and out of the area," Reist says. That includes President Barack Obama, whose plane, Air Force One, is housed at the base.
While his top-level HAZMAT training has prepared Reist to respond in the event of an emergency, most of his job focuses on higher-level planning and training for Joint Base Andrews, including developing a software plotting program that would be activated in the case of a biological or chemical attack in the area surrounding the base. "The primary base focus is on the presidential flight line and all the affiliated military and dignitary traffic," he explains.
Once a year, Reist travels to the Center for National Response for up-to-the-minute training on national emergencies. He also trains military personnel deploying from Joint Base Andrews, helping re-familiarize the men and women of the 316th with their protective equipment and emergency protocol to ensure that everyone is prepared, should a crisis arise.
"We're affectionately known as the insurance policy that the Air Force never wants to use," Reist says.