Critical Days of Summer 2011

  • Published
  • By Col. Douglas Lamberth
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing vice commander
Every year the Air Force, as a whole, makes it a point to focus our attention on safety during the Critical Days of Summer, which is defined as the days between Memorial and Labor Days. As that time nears, I always look forward to the warm weather and family fun that signals summer is here. But, did you know that more Airmen are injured or killed during the CDS than any other time of the year? A tragic testament to this is the fact that every year we lose more Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines to vehicle mishaps than we lose to war. Sadly, recurring themes in these mishaps are speed, alcohol, fatigue and lack of seatbelt usage.

Since Jan. 1, 2011, the U.S. Air Force has already experienced 19 off duty fatalities, 16 of those were related to vehicle mishaps. As you may know, this hit close to home this year as one of those fatalities was one of our own.

Chief Master Sgt. David Spector, the Air Mobility Command command chief said it best, "We need to reverse these negative trends, developing a robust safety culture that includes strong leadership, self discipline, personal responsibility and wingman intervention. When you see fellow Airmen taking risks we need you to step in and take a stand, you just might save a life".

On a positive note, McConnell had zero reportable off-duty mishaps last year during the CDS! This is a testament to Team McConnell's 24/7 safety culture and your efforts. Let's continue that trend this year.

In 2010 there were 16 CDS fatalities, two from AMC. The AMC commander's goal for the 2011 CDS is zero fatalities command wide and AMC has highlighted numerous key safety topics to help ensure the safety of you and your loved ones. These topics, in addition to the Commander's Safety Message, will be presented to you during our May 26 CDS Kickoff Campaign just prior to the long weekend. I implore you to pay attention to the information that will be provided and apply the risk mitigation tools you have been taught throughout your career. In addition, our McConnell Wing Safety staff has assembled a number of other summer safety tips for all of us to apply to help ensure we have another safe summer in 2011. Please take these to heart, as the life you may save may be your own.

1. Motorcycle riders need to always place a greater emphasis on defensive driving and try to anticipate what may happen while riding. For example, anticipate that drivers backing their cars out of driveways may not see you, also make it a point to never ride in a car's blind spot.

2. Take your time and obey posted speed limits. For an average drive across town, driving even 10 mph faster is only going to save you a few minutes, while increasing your risk of a traffic mishap by as much as 50 percent.

3. Water sports are the second leading cause of accidental death for Airmen. If you are a boater, keep in mind that a safe boat is a well-equipped boat. Always know your boat's load limit and don't exceed it, but at the same time always carry the necessary safety gear and ensure all riders know how to use it.

4. Sunscreen is imperative when out in the sun. The American Association of Dermatology recommends applying and then reapplying sunscreen every two hours when out in the sun, especially during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

5. Always use barbecue grills outdoors, in well-ventilated areas, never add lighter fluid to coals that are already hot or warm, and always allow coals to burn out completely. Remember to let ashes cool at least 48 hours before disposing.

Summer is a wonderful time for all of us to rejuvenate, spend time with our families, and enjoy the awesome recreational opportunities the state of Kansas provides us. Take time to relax, but most importantly, make sure you return safe so you can continue to provide the amazing superior warfighter support that you do every day. You are our greatest resource and our mission needs you!