Master Sergeant in the US Air Force
We’re highlighting Viking Alumni in our community and around the world to see how Vikings are handling the pandemic. Today, we’re sitting down again with Master Sergeant Stephaun McKinley, USAF, who played football and studied Psychology at LBCC in 2007-2008. Last time we spoke, Staff Sergeant McKinley was working to develop a RAVENS program in Germany, offering flyaway security for military aircraft.
LBCC Alumni Association: What is new?
Master Sergeant McKinley: First and foremost, my wife Samara and I welcomed our son, Aiden, back in November 2019. I was also promoted to Master Sergeant in May of this year, still with the Security Forces in the Air Force.
Tell us a little about your current role in the Security Forces.
Now, as a senior Non-Commissioned Officer, my job is to oversee all law enforcement response as well as the security of Department of Defense assets, both tactically and administratively. We’re essentially the first responders of the Air Force.
What kind of calls do your airmen respond to? Is it similar to local police departments?
Very similar. That said, when you’re dealing with a military installation, you typically don’t deal with crimes as severe as what civilian law enforcement are called to. Our duty is to provide overall force protection, which is securing both the people and the property of the base we’re stationed at. We secure the entrances to the base, and on base we handle all law enforcement responsibilities – making sure people are driving safely, ticketing for traffic violations, domestic situations, etc. We also respond along with fire and medical personnel for medical emergencies. We’re trained in triage, so if we arrive on scene first we’re able to stabilize the individual until medical or fire arrive, and create a perimeter so they can work safely.
Were you still in Germany back in March when COVID first hit?
Yes, I was. Germany shut everything down very quickly. We went from standard operating procedures to learning that Germany was shutting down its borders the next day. A lot of countries in Europe followed suit after that. Germany was fining people up to €1,000 for being outside with someone not living in their household.
How did the shutdown impact the base?
For one thing, it turned into a ghost town. The only people out on the streets were Security Forces or families going to get groceries. The military put immediate restrictions in place, and non-essential personnel went to working from home overnight, so in a lot of ways it was a lot like what happened back at home for you guys.
How has COVID impacted your work as a first responder?
Our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits became a lot more robust! We always had a PPE kit as part of our gear as first responders, but since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve added higher grade masks and increased the quantity of gloves, sanitizing wipes, things like that. Considerations were made for officer safety and we make sure that we’re maintaining social distancing during meetings, equipment issues, etc. In the early days, we were keeping a full shift of officers on-call in case we had an outbreak among those actively patrolling. Now that we’re farther in and know more about the virus, we’re actively testing our airmen and quarantining anyone who tests positive and anyone they’ve come into contact with at work. We sanitize all of our reception areas as well – basically anywhere the general public comes inside to file reports or claims is sanitized after every individual. I want to say that everyone I’ve worked with has been on-board with doing whatever we need to do to keep our level of response the same despite the dangers posed by COVID.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us - anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you again – it’s an honor to speak to the LBCC Alumni Association about my experiences. It means a lot that my Alma Mater still thinks of me. Go Vikings!