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“Next generation leaders” get wealth of knowledge from First Responder Day

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ashley Mikaio, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs Office

Company grade officers from the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing had the unique opportunity to organize and participate in First Responder Day at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, Nov. 11, 2022.

During the event, a group of 12 CGOs spent the morning learning from firefighters, medical technicians, the Wing Operations Center, Military Working Dog handlers, and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.

“Today was very unique because usually other officers don’t get to see all of the first responders this up close unless they know someone in that unit personally,” said 2nd Lt. Xavier Kirksey, 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron portfolio optimization chief. “It’s great to network and learn the emergency management side of the mission here.”

Being deployed provides many Airmen with a rare opportunity of time and resources. Groups, like the CGO Council, help connect members to others throughout Ali Al Salem’s close-knit community. The CGO Council’s senior mentor, Col. Daniel Santoro, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing deputy commander, created this program this summer, and is dedicated to CGO development based around a six month deployment. The program, coined Next Generation Leaders by Santoro, included immersions, mentor sessions, as well as networking events.

“They’re getting a broader picture all while having colonel mentorship,” said Santoro. “Exposing them to it, getting to hear them talk and getting to see it firsthand definitely broadens their aperture and makes them better future leaders. Now, when they meet other Airmen or CGOs in that field, they’re going to be able to speak their language and understand a little bit more about their mission set, which will ultimately make them better leaders.”

Officers often have to work in joint environments or manage large events that may involve multiple Air Force career fields. Any opportunity to get to know or learn from other specialties around the base is great not only for networking purposes, but for future continuity.

“As CGOs, in the future there’s going to be opportunities where we’ll have to integrate or coordinate with other career fields and just having even a superficial knowledge of what others do will help us make better decisions,” explained Kirksey.

While the First Responder Day was beneficial on a strategic level, it was also time for the officers to spend outside of their normal work environment. While on the tour, officers had the opportunity to feel the strength of a firehose at full pressure, dawn a Military Working Dog bite suit and be chased, see the inside of ambulance and trauma room and wear an EOD bomb suit.

“Today was fun! I enjoyed it,” said Capt. Maria Jensen, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing A/1/6/7 installation support and force protection executive officer. “I personally like seeing how proud everyone is of their jobs–it warms my heart that they’re so happy to be here doing what they love.”