Preparation and service

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Scott Berndt
  • 62nd Airlift Wing chief of safety
Airmen of the 62nd Airlift Wing are serving brilliantly in area of operations, performing dangerous airlift mission's everyday, and making it look easy. I know this firsthand after seeing them in action during my recent deployment. The deployment was going smoothly for me and then I received the worst kind of news you can while so far away, something happened to someone in my family.

After reading the email from home I discovered my daughter had a severe allergic reaction to pistachios causing her throat to close. Even with relatively careful pre-deployment contingency planning, the dreaded pistachio came out of nowhere. After the 911 call, the Gig Harbor Fire Department and paramedics arrived within minutes. My daughter was stabilized and transported to the children's hospital for treatment. My wife shared with the paramedics that I was deployed and my daughter rallied in no time at the hospital and was released a few hours later.

What did we learn from this event? Be prepared for the unexpected. This was my tenth deployment but my first since having children. Ensuring your family has a plan for a medical emergency and having courses of action worked out is essential prior to deployment. Making sure your spouse or child's guardian has all the essential information for your child's care and potential medical scenarios will better prepare your family to handle the unexpected. This extends beyond just who is going to care for them. It means ensuring that someone has access to care for both medical and financial emergencies.

Shortly after the incident we received a note from the Gig Harbor Fire Department thanking me for my service. I decided to thank them for their service by flying them a flag over Afghanistan as a thank you for taking care of my family while I was gone. I presented the flag with my daughter to fire station #59 on July 3 so they could fly it on our nation's Independence Day as a tribute to our shared bonds since 9/11.