USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Even though Sailors aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) are thousands of miles away from their families they can be rest assured that if an emergency was to happen back home they already have a plan in place, thanks to the America's Most Prepared Military Community (AMPMC) program.
The AMPMC is a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sponsored program that educates military members and their families associated with the geographic region in which they live. It also teaches participants how to develop a family emergency plan and what to put into an emergency kit to use when disaster strikes.
"We spend a lot of time training and preparing for our deployments, but we owe it to our families to have a solid plan in place to help cope with an emergency," said Capt. Terry B. Kraft, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer. "Our readiness can suffer if we are unsure about the status of our families during a significant regional emergency."
Ronald Reagan Sailors took part in the program sponsored by Navy Region Southwest last fall while the ship was in San Diego. The training, which was mandatory for each crew member, took place well before plans for the current deployment were announced.
Ronald Reagan was one of only a handful of Navy commands in the Southwest Region to achieve a 100 percent contact rate for the AMPMC program.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Luke Tajima, Ronald Reagan's assistant intelligence officer and AMPMC program coordinator, the command approached AMPMC as a tool to enhance mission readiness since all of the ship's Sailors have to be prepared for deployments.
"With this underlining philosophy, officers and chiefs led the effort by enrolling in the program themselves, then fostered further enrollment for their departments and divisions," said Tajima.
Tajima said he worked with AMPMC department representatives on a weekly basis, giving briefs directly to some departments and training some of the representatives to give briefs to their own departments. Tajima said this method helped Ronald Reagan ensure a 100 percent contact rate.
Briefings were specific to the San Diego area and included the possible emergency scenarios of fire, earthquake, landslide, tsunamis, hazardous material spills, nuclear incidents and acts of terrorism.
"We also provided our weekly progress report to the XO [executive officer], copying department heads and LCPOs [leading chief petty officers]," added Tajima. "Although we have made the AMPMC briefing mandatory, we kept the enrollment voluntary. As a result, departmental enrollment percentage ranges from 24 to 100 percent."
Tajima said the AMPMC program is another way of showing how the Ronald Reagan leadership cares about Sailors, families and the local community.
"Because we care, enrolling in the AMPMC program has been an easy choice for many of our Sailors," said Tajima.
The senior enlisted leadership on board Ronald Reagan also agrees that the AMPMC program helps maintain overall mission readiness.
"Being a Sailor assigned to sea duty means always being prepared to deploy," said Command Master Chief (SW/AW) James DeLozier, Ronald Reagan's command master chief. "This [AMPMC] program is another example of how we can help prepare our families for an emergency if something should happen back home."
"When the command decided last fall to start pushing the program we had no idea we would be leaving shortly after on an unscheduled surge deployment," added DeLozier. "Knowing that each Sailor's family already has a plan on where to go in case of an emergency back home makes life easier for everyone while we are on deployment."
Sailors aboard Ronald Reagan said they feel that the program definitely helped prepare them for the possibility of an emergency at home while on the current deployment.
"Knowing we had the training helps give us a sense of security when it comes to our families," said Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW/SW) Roderick Espinosa, assigned to Ronald Reagan's aircraft intermediate maintenance department. "Having a plan in case of earthquakes, blackouts and other emergencies is very helpful to our families when we are deployed."
Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named after the 40th U.S. president, and carries the motto of "Peace through Strength," a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency.
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group departed San Diego on a deployment in order to fill the role of USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), the Navy's only permanently forward deployed aircraft carrier, as it undergoes scheduled maintenance in Yokuska, Japan.
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.