Inside the Gates: The importance of JBER’s sound system
If you live near Joint Base Elmedorf-Richardson, you’ve likely heard the sounds of the military base in action; the guns firing, the planes taking off everyday like clockwork, and the base-wide sound system relaying everything from alert messages to the national anthem.
The music and messages are broadcast all around the base by a network of speakers. Maintaining them is a year-round job.
“When people hear I’m in the Air Force, the first thing they ask is what plane I fly, ” Senior Airman Cody Keefe said, laughing. Instead, his job is checking batteries, speakers and amplifiers to ensure the system plays when it needs to.
But who is behind the voice? Airman 1st Class Ellary Johnson is one of the voices of JBER.
“Everyone thinks you’re a computer anyway, so there’s no real pressure,” she said. “You just talk super slow forever and then when you’re done, you repeat yourself and then you do the same outcall and everything. There’s a bunch of sirens. That’s probably the part people notice the most because they’re like ‘oh, dang, sirens.'”
Every Wednesday at noon, she tests the system, which takes less than a minute.
It’s crucial to know it’ll work in case of an emergency — like an attack or natural disaster. That’s why Keefe says he feels his job is important.
“If there’s ever something that has to be alerted to the entire base and these systems aren’t working, it will cause problems with relaying the message,” Keefe explained. “If these go off, fighters can be in the air shortly, just by hearing them.”
What may just seem like noise on an average day can save lives when it really counts.