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Spotlight on: Region Emergency Management

06 September 2022

From Morgan Gilliam

​“Emergency Management (EM) initially was an art, now it’s a science,” said Dunlap. “We’ve learned a lot.”
For more than 40 years Bill Dunlap has worked in Emergency Management.

​“Emergency Management (EM) initially was an art, now it’s a science,” said Dunlap. “We’ve learned a lot.”

Getting his start at one of the most notorious nuclear disasters in the nation, Three Mile Island, Dunlap started working on emergency management procedures shortly after the plant’s partial meltdown.

“There were few Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs), no Region Operation Centers (ROCs),” Dunlap said.

The U.S. Navy veteran spent 9 years as an ET working with the Navy’s nuclear program including conducting/participating in reactor accident drills. Dunlap had a background in radiation protection and his years of Navy experience served him well as part of the Three Mile Island response team. He was charged with developing standard safety practices.

“I got to be on the ground floor of growing EM to what it is today,” Dunlap said.

Hailing from Pittsburgh, Dunlap’s career has lead him around the world. After working on the nuclear reactor accident, Dunlap began consulting for Emergency Management throughout the country, working on contracts with FEMA, the Nuclear Regulatory Committee, several intelligence agencies as well as commercial commpanies. He eventually returned home to Pennsylvania and worked for the commonwealth handling their emergency management training and exercise division. Then in July 2019, he joined the Emergency Management department at NAS Sigonella. Little did he know, he was about to face another global emergency event unlike anything seen before, COVID.

“Sigonella was activated for one and a half years,” Dunlap said. “The EOC was reporting, providing masks, thermometers, coordinating testing.”

As the pandemic was ramping up, Dunlap made his way to Naples to become the Deputy Region Program Director for Commander, Navy Region Europe, Africa, Central (CNREURAFCENT). During that time the ROC took lead on logistics for COVID testing, travel, and public health policy across the Area of Responsibility. The ROC worked to ensure the health and safety of their Sailors, civilian personnel, and families at nine installations, across three combatant commands.

“It was a huge effort,” said Dunlap. “But resilience is the number one thing we tried to achieve.”

Ensuring CNREURAFCENT had the ability to provide logistical support to the installations from the onset of COVID to the deployment of vaccines highlighted the resiliency of the command and its people. Region Air Operations coordinated daily flights to Landsthul, Germany in the beginning of the pandemic to ensure timely testing results as the fleet continued to operate and stay on mission. The ROC’s resiliency was on full display as the rest of the world began to shut down, they remained open and operational 24/7, handling COVID flights, providing shore logistics for fleet assets pulling into port, and coordinating travel for service members and families transiting into and out of the AOR.

“The higher your resilience, the less support you need to get back to normal,” Dunlap said. “The more resilience, the less load on the system.”

While COVID was anything but normal, the ROC was able to maintain a posture that had zero impact on the fleet’s military readiness. The coordination between combatant commands, the fleet, and shore was seamless and ensured the health of the force. The system put in place during the early days of the pandemic were easily adaptable and carried the ROC and the Region through the pandemic and eventual ramp down.

Dunlap credits resiliency as the reason the team was able to do so much in the face of a worldwide pandemic.

“If there is less load on the system, the system can spend more time helping those in dire need,” said Dunlap.

Navy Region EURAFCENT oversees nine installations in seven countries, enabling U.S., allied and partner nation forces to be where they are needed, when they are needed in order to ensure security and stability in the European, African, and Central Command areas of responsibility. 

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