Photo: Base and community leaders pose for a photograph Oct. 4, 2021, after signing an agreement for automatic aid between fire and emergency services of Lowndes County and Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. The agreement is designed to shorten emergency response times and provide training to both the civilian and military emergency responders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Daryl Knee)
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE – The Lowndes County Fire Department and Moody AFB have been conducting emergency operations together.
Since October of 2021, the 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron and the Lowndes County Fire Department have conducted emergency operations together under the automatic aid agreement.
While the automatic aid agreement is able to provide structural firefighting training and experience for Team Moody’s firefighters and Lowndes County firefighters, sharing skill sets and strengthening capabilities isn’t the only thing accomplished – the agreement saves lives.
“The fire stations (in Lowndes County) provide us experiences we don’t usually get here on base, so we’re able to practice our trade in real world events along-side them,” said Eric Mortensen, 23rd CES fire chief. “This includes cutting people out of cars, working on medical aids, providing CPR and working fires.”
Due to the lower tempo of emergency situations on base, the most real-world training and experience Moody firemen are going to receive, is the calls they automatically respond to in the local community of Lowndes County.
“For us military firefighters, we gain more experience and build relationships with the county when we respond to calls off base,” said Senior Airman Enrique Jovel, 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron driver operator. “On base we don’t get much action, so when we go out into the county, we gain more knowledge for all situations and it helps further our progression in our career field.”
In August of 2022, both fire departments responded to a house-fire call, working tirelessly together through the fire, smoke and heat. In the end, the house unfortunately collapsed, but all family members and fire team members made it out safely.
A strike of lightning was all it took for the community member’s house to catch fire, but the 23rd CES rushed to the scene, arriving closely behind Lowndes County’s initial fire attack team.
“When we arrived, the fire was already coming out of the roof, but we jumped into action grabbing our equipment and headed for the house to begin helping put out the fire,” Jovel said.
Both teams assessed the progressing damage from the inside and Jovel noticed that the structure of the house looked as if it was breathing – indicating worsening fire conditions.
Acting quickly, all the fire team members departed the house, but before Jovel and his company officer could make it through the door, the ceiling collapsed, tangling them both in wires, preventing them from escaping.
Jovel sprang into action freeing himself and his company officer from wires and debris, and both escaped the burning house.
An Air and Space Achievement Medal was given to Jovel for his actions during the event.
“Jovel showed a calm, technical acumen skill that day,” Mortensen said. “He was recognized for his accomplishments that day because he did something that was unique and unusual for an airman at his level to do and he didn’t freeze when confronted with the situation – he took action.”
Without the automatic aid agreement, large support for emergencies, like what was demonstrated that day, would be far and few between. But thanks to the agreement, everyone benefits.
“The (automatic aid agreement) is benefiting everyone – us firefighters and the community that needs us,” Jovel said. “And I may have won an achievement medal for the actions I took during the call, but it was still a grievance for the family involved. Because of the knowledge I’ve gained by working along-side Lowndes County, I was able to power through the fire.”