101 Critical Days of Summer

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Todd Moomaw & Tech. Sgt. Sara Robinson
  • 132nd Fighter Wing
Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summertime as well as the start of the 101 Critical Days of Summer. The varied types and high number of mishaps involving Airmen and families created the need to focus on safety during the Critical Days of Summer. Past statistics show that most of these mishaps occur because millions of Americans change their focus from everyday mundane tasks to summer vacations and other more exciting warm-weather activities.

Historically, the USAF suffers its highest number of injuries and fatalities during this period. Each loss is a terrible and needless human tragedy that causes families to suffer tremendous anguish and reduces our ability to get the mission accomplished. Campaign efforts attempt to increase personal awareness of risk and thereby reduce the number of summer mishaps and fatalities. Please utilize every available opportunity to educate and encourage our Airmen, including family members, to apply proper risk management techniques in the activities in which they participate -both on and off the job.

The sun is shining; the sound peaceful sounds of the waves and boats lull your nerves as you spend the afternoon on Saylorville Lake. Many Des Moines residents spend holidays basking in the sun, enjoying boating and perhaps a drink or two. We are taught as Airman to drink responsibly, keep an eye on our buddies and always be vigilant. With Memorial Day right around the corner, we are reminded of this during the '101 critical days of summer'.
Now imagine the peaceful noises of the lake interrupted by screams for help. Two 132nd FW members had the opportunity to put their training to the test as a lazy holiday outing quickly turned to a life or death situation.

"I was with a friend and my dog sitting there relaxing and swimming. There were quite a few boats out on the water. As we were sitting there, a group of people went out to the water's edge to swim," explained Staff Sgt. Tyler Simmons, LGR Logistics Readiness.
Iowa experienced record setting droughts in 2012. The lakes lake water level was so low that the layout of the lake had changed. This made the shelf of the lake very shallow with a sudden drop at the shelf's edge. You could wade out 50 yards or so without even getting chest deep.

"Apparently somebody had stepped off the shelf too far. They all tried to help but one just kept pulling the other in. They started screaming and yelling. It seemed shallow so we thought they were kidding around but then we saw people jumping off boats to go help," explained Simmons.

Simmons quickly realized that his help was needed in the emergency.  "At that point I jumped up and headed to the water, I got out there and some was dragging someone in so I helped drag him in went back out for another one. By that time we had several people helping. We pulled him in to safety," explained Simmons, "We ended up pulling 3 people to safety, one of which was unconscious but breathing."

His quick thinking and physical fitness helped save lives that day. Onlookers called 911 and had rescue services arrived shortly. Simmons and fellow lake visitors avoided disaster that day.

As members of the military, we learn about self-aid and buddy care. This is depicted as an even that happens in a combat zone or deployed situations. However, not all emergency situations happen when and where we think they will. Many times Airmen come across emergencies in their off-duty hours often when they least expect it.

More often, airman have used their military training during off duty hours. While participating in training think about situations like car accidents or any medical emergency you might experience. Most of Self-Aid & Buddy Care could be applicable to civilian life.
"The military experience helped me to keep calm and collected. Some of my Self Aid & Buddy care helped in this situation," he explained.  Most importantly Simmons was able to keep a calm head and help local citizens with his military training