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Unit control centers battle COVID-19 by accounting for Airmen

Spreadsheets similar to the reproduction above are used by the unit control centers to track the status of Airmen affected by Coronavirus. The tool consolidates information about quarantined or isolated personnel and supports leadership in their ability to make decisions. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Spreadsheets similar to the reproduction above are used by the unit control centers to track the status of Airmen affected by Coronavirus. The tool consolidates information about quarantined or isolated personnel and supports leadership in their ability to make decisions. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Airman 1st Class Tyran Stokes, 100th Wing Staff Agencies unit control center representative, confirms that accountability of isolated and quarantined Airmen has been completed for all wing staff agencies April 8, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. Unit control centers report information that is routed up multiple levels through the chain of command, so their numbers must be accurate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Airman 1st Class Tyran Stokes, 100th Wing Staff Agencies unit control center representative, confirms that accountability of isolated and quarantined Airmen has been completed for all wing staff agencies April 8, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. Unit control centers report information that is routed up multiple levels through the chain of command, so their numbers must be accurate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Airman 1st Class Tyran Stokes, 100th Wing Staff Agencies unit control center representative, listens to an agency chief report the quarantine status of an Airman April 8, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. The UCC representatives update the status of military members in quarantine or isolation daily to provide an accurate view to leadership of how the virus is impacting the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Airman 1st Class Tyran Stokes, 100th Wing Staff Agencies unit control center representative, listens to an agency chief report the quarantine status of an Airman April 8, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. The UCC representatives update the status of military members in quarantine or isolation daily to provide an accurate view to leadership of how the virus is impacting the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

RAF Mildenhall, England --

The 100th Air Refueling Wing unit control centers at RAF Mildenhall, England, play an important role in accounting for Airmen quarantined or isolated during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Stood up at the discretion of the wing commander during a contingency, each UCC serves as an information focal point for a squadron.

“The overall role of the UCC is to relay emergency information within the chain of command, usually through recall or accountability procedures,” said Staff Sgt. Isaiah Straubel, 100th Wing Staff Agencies UCC representative. “The reality of what we are doing is being the information bridge between individual units and incident/base commanders that are making critical decisions during a crisis.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the activation of UCCs, and the members manning them have risen to the challenge. For weeks now, UCCs across the wing have been tracking quarantined or isolated Airmen to provide accountability of members affected by Coronavirus.

The quarantined Airmen are those confined as a precaution due to potential exposure to the virus while the isolated individuals have shown symptoms similar to Coronavirus.

“We make contact with agency leads each day to ensure our data is current,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Hersey, 100th WSA UCC representative. “We have a database that outlines who is out due to quarantine or isolation. We also track if they’ve been TDY during potential exposure to the virus, as we’ve had personnel training during the initial outbreak.”

After the information is collected by the UCC, it is then routed up the chain of command and briefed at the wing level and above. Information collected must be accurate as it is being presented to leaders making decisions that affect thousands across the Air Force.

“Your credibility lies on the data you send up,” said Maj. Triven Pillai, 100th Comptroller Squadron commander. “Other people make decisions on it. Currently what we are collecting goes all the way to the U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander.”

Although ultimately a small part of the large effort fighting COVID-19, the roll of the UCCs is nonetheless key to beating the virus.

“The UCCs are important during the Coronavirus epidemic because we are constantly providing valuable, detailed information from the unit to the headquarters,” said Straubel. “At a glance, we are masters of spreadsheets and recall procedures, but at the end of the day, we are a cog in a system that cares about individual Airmen and are doing our best to keep everyone safe.”