By Chief Master Sgt. Brooke McLean
314th Airlift Wing command chief
In the past two weeks, Air Education and Training Command has experienced two aircraft accidents with the tragic loss of four lives. Four Airmen lost and the lives of at least four families altered forever. These events remind us that our chosen profession is dangerous and comes with certain inherent risks.
I’ve heard it said that safety is paramount but that isn’t necessarily true. If we made safety paramount and did the safest possible thing, we wouldn’t fly, we wouldn’t put convoys on the roads of Iraq and we wouldn’t live anywhere close to tornado alley.
What is paramount in everything we do is risk management. Our Air Force has done a good job of educating the force in Operational Risk Management and we routinely measure the risks of an event, whether flying a sortie or driving on snow covered roads, and make leadership decisions based on established criteria. What I believe we don’t do well is transport that valuable training, experience, and judgment into our personal lives.
The summer season and the 101 critical days of summer are nearly on us and statistically this is the most dangerous time of year for off-duty Airmen. Playing in the sunshine is one of my favorite things to do but I can honestly say I haven’t always been smart about it and used common sense. Before I joined the Air Force, I owned a motorcycle and it wasn’t uncommon for my friends and me to ride to the lake wearing shorts and flip-flops. That’s it. No helmet, no jacket, gloves, and clearly no brain. I shiver at the thought of the DUMB risk I took each time I did that and how the life of my mother might have been shattered by my stupidity.
Please enjoy the summer and get away from work for some much deserved time off but make sure you take your brain with you. We work in a dangerous business and losing one Airman is too many but please use common sense and take your ORM skills with you this summer.