2010 Executive Safety Summit
By Col. Drew "Toto" DeHaes, 132 FW/CC
/ Published July 21, 2010
Des Moines, Iowa -- Bottom Line Up Front: We have done a good job in the Air National Guard with creating a safe work environment and on the job safety. The areas we have come up short is airmen displaying high risk behaviors when they leave the safe confines of the Guard.
Several of the top 5 had the opportunity to attend the most recent Executive Safety Summit in Ft. Worth. Briefings were given by the Director ANG, Lt Gen Wyatt, Chief of Air Force Safety, MG Roggero, ANG Chief of Safety, Col Slocum to name just a few. The topics covered everything from personal motor vehicle safety to suicides. I have taken the most salient points and summarized them below.
Twenty guardsmen have lost their lives so far this year, three in automobiles, nine suicides and 8 "other". No guardsmen have died as a result of on-duty activities (non combat related). To give you a longer perspective, since 2002, we have lost 3 guardsmen to aircraft mishaps and 179 airmen to off-duty accidents. We have done a good job at work; we have a lot of work left to do in regards to off-duty mishaps.
The statistics are numbing. If you have deployed in support of OIF/OEF, you have a 70% greater chance of dying. 25% of Air Force deaths are on motorcycles (majority on sport/super sport bikes). 70% of these fatal motorcycle accidents were due to reckless behavior. The common thread - male, ages 18-25, single, speeding and alcohol. If you are the between the ages of 3-34, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death. The first line of defense is our family. Parents must set the example for our kids, just like supervisors must set the example for subordinates. Safety is about leadership and communication. It matters more about what you do versus what you say.
Since 9/11, the Air Force has suffered approx 60 fatalities due to combat. During that same time, we have lost over 600 airmen to off-duty accidents. Over 55% of the automobile fatalities were alcohol related. In over 40% of fatal car crashes no seatbelt was worn. RECKLESS BEHAVIOR WILL KILL YOU, PERIOD!
Talking about reckless behavior, the mere fact of talking on the phone (whether hands free or not) increases your risk of an accident by 4 times. 11% of people on the road are talking while driving (accounts for 1.4 million crashes/yr). By texting and driving, you increase your risk by 8 to 23 times. At any given time 1% of the people on the road are texting (accounts for 200,000 crashes/yr). In Iowa on the 1st of July, it is against the law to text (reading included) while driving. For our teens, talking on the phone or texting while driving will also be against the law.
Suicides are on the rise in the Air Force and the ANG. We have lost 9 guardsmen since January to suicides. One of the most recent was in Fort Dodge two months ago. It can happen on our base, don't be afraid to have that uncomfortable talk with your wingman. Man/Woman up and ask the tough question, "are you thinking about suicide?" It could save a life.
We discuss PPE, safe procedures, ORM, etc during our day to day work related activities. Take this safety focus out the gate as you leave for the 4th of July weekend. Ensure you go face to face with your Airmen and relate the dangers that lurk outside the main gate and ways to mitigate the hazards. Be safe!