Take responsibility for the safety of your family, your friends and yourself

  • Published
  • By Col. Richard Klumpp, Jr.
  • 71st Flying Training Wing commander
Just step outside and you know summer is here. And, with the lure of summer fun, Team Vance members will face the increased risk of mishaps as we enter the 101 critical days of summer between May 25 and Sept. 4.

Although the 101 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day account for just over a quarter of the calendar year, history has shown that an exponentially higher percentage of our off-duty accidents, and resultant injuries and fatalities, occur during the summer season.

"Operation Summer Survivor - Zero In On Safety" is the theme for this year's Air Education and Training Command campaign to prevent the loss of the Air Force's most valuable resource - our Airman. Gen. William Looney, AETC commander, has asked commanders and supervisors to clearly communicate his message that "we want all our people to enjoy the summer, but survive it safely." We will kick off that campaign here at Vance with the May 25 safety day and continue promoting a culture of safety that will help ensure that our summer ends, as it has for many years in a row, with zero losses.

An Internet search for "101 ways" will bring up more than 54 million entries, but not one of those entries will provide a guaranteed way to survive the 101 Critical Days of Summer. I can't make that guarantee either, but, to paraphrase legendary coach John Wooden, I won't let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.

What I can do is ensure everyone is aware of the risks associated with these critical days and that they remember to use operational risk management in all decision making.

Why, with all of the safety information available today, do off-duty accidents still continue to occur every summer?

The answer to that question from an article in an old safety publication is just as applicable today as it was when it was printed four years ago.

"For most of us, the reason may be because we simply don't believe that the accidents will happen to us ... that the child that dies while swimming will not be our child ... that the friend that dies while driving drunk will not be our friend because our friend can handle the drinking ... and that the one little phone call will not hurt because we have always been able to handle driving distractions. Yet each time we do any of these activities without taking safety precautions, we increase the chances that next time it will be our child, our friend or ourselves. This year, remember that safety is a personal responsibility. It is up to you to take responsibility for the safety of your family, your friends and yourself."

The same ORM we practice on the job, which allows Vance to achieve its enviable safety record, can be used in all we do. If we assess the risks of our activities, evaluate them with safety in mind and then make a sound decision before acting, we are likely to see a significant reduction in mishaps and prevent fatalities. Proper risk management planning will allow us all to keep ourselves, our loved ones and our friends out of harm's way.