Equipped to refuel: AFE saves lives

AFE Airmen equipping to refuel and save lives

McConnell Airmen equip a KC-135 Stratotanker for flight Aug 11, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Everything is tested and checked to allow aircrew to safely conduct missions even during an emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alan Ricker)

AFE Airmen equipping to refuel and save lives

Staff Sgt. Jason Samson, 22nd Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment technician, tests a quick-don oxygen mask Aug. 10, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The masks are exchanged every 30 days to make sure the equipment is always ready for use during an emergency situation, such as a recent occurrence of an in-flight emergency when smoke filled the cabin and the aircrew safely landed the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Airman Alan Ricker)

AFE Airmen equipping to refuel and save lives

The quick-don oxygen mask is used to administer oxygen directly to aircrew and prevent loss of consciousness in an event of sudden loss of cabin pressure. It also protects against effects of toxic fumes in the event of an aircraft fire. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alan Ricker)

AFE Airmen equipping to refuel and save lives

Senior Airman Jordon Porter, 22nd Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment technician, prepares chemical gear Aug. 11, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. AFE Airmen maintain chemical gear by searching for the smallest holes, scratches or tears that could potentially endanger a life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alan Ricker)

AFE Airmen equipping to refuel and save lives

Senior Airman Jordon Porter, 22nd Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment technician, cleans a flight helmet for a post-flight check Aug. 10, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Porter and other AFE Airmen are tasked with maintaining flight helmets, chemical gear, night vision goggles and other safety equipment used by aircrew. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alan Ricker)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The 22nd Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment Airmen provide and maintain safety and survival gear for aircrew and aircraft here to allow aircrews to have confidence in their equipment.

The goal of aircrew flight equipment is to give aircrews a sense of safety while conducting missions.

“We do what we have to do to make sure our crew members can go out and do their mission successfully,” said Senior Airman Jordon Porter, 22nd OSS AFE technician. “We’re behind the scenes taking care of their equipment to make sure that if anything happens, they’re taken care of and they can come back home to their families and loved ones.”

To help enable the air refueling mission, there are two main shops where AFE Airmen work and a third shop that trains AFE Airmen and crew members on aircrew contamination control area procedures.

In the case of chemical attacks, aircrews are brushed down and cleaned up at the ACCA.

The first operational AFE shop maintains flight helmets, masks, night vision goggles, eye protection and chemical gear. They provide aircrew with fitted helmets and check for small defects that may make the equipment faulty.

“We’re looking for even the smallest holes, scratches or tears that could potentially injure someone or endanger a life,” said Porter.

The other shop works on equipment that is installed on the aircraft. This equipment includes quick-don oxygen masks, life rafts, inner and outer accessory kits, radios, flares, compasses, survival vests, body armor, emergency passenger oxygen system, life preserver vests, protective clothing kits and other equipment that might be needed for a hazardous situation.

“It’s important for us to make sure that all of the equipment, survival gear and life-sustaining gear on the aircraft is in working order,” Samson said. “That’s something that we take seriously to ensure that these aircrew members and any passengers on the aircraft come back safely so they can fight another day.”