Summer begins with safety

PETERSON AFB, Colo. -- Each year on Memorial Day, we honor Americans lost in service to our nation. As we reflect and give tribute to those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms, let us also honor their past service by committing to our own wartime readiness. 

Our Vision -- "Strength and Preparedness to Save the Nation" -- requires each member of this wing to be fit for duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is challenging, and it all begins with safety. 

As most of you are aware, Memorial Day weekend is also the beginning of the Air Force-wide 101 Critical Days of Summer. This campaign runs annually to counter the traditional increase in Air Force mishaps and fatalities that occur during the summer months. 

In fact, 4 p.m. May 25 marks the official start of the campaign that ends at 7 a.m. Sept. 4. Last summer, 18 Airmen lost their lives in tragic mishaps. Though our wing has not suffered a summer fatality in years, we want to continue this trend and avoid any other mishaps that affect our mission readiness. 

How do we combat peacetime mishaps and more importantly, preventable off-duty fatalities during the 101 CDS? Just knowing the principles of Operational Risk Management is not enough. Only by increasing our personal risk awareness will we be able to sense something is not right and make a conscious decision to A-C-T: Assess the environment, Consider options to limit risk, and Take appropriate action. 

Mishaps are repeatedly suffered by Airmen trained in applying ORM, but fail to employ its principles. ORM familiarity and knowledge alone is not enough. Therefore, our wing goal during this 101 CDS campaign will be to maximize risk awareness in all on- and off-duty tasks. 

Beginning May 21, a 101 CDS countdown will be displayed daily over the local area network reminding personnel of their commitment to safety. On May 25, an atomic clock "hack" will be given by 4 p.m. signifying the beginning of 101 CDS. All base personnel should synchronize their watches to this very second. We will enter the high risk summer period together, on time, with awareness on safety. 

Leaders at every level must take the "time" to mentor Airmen on the proven methods of ORM and the ever vital need to be cognizant of risk. I challenge every Airman to check their watch before engaging in any activity or task, and ask, "Do I have time for safety?" 

I wish everyone and their families a prosperous, safe Memorial Day weekend and summer season. Be a good Wingman and role model to your fellow Airmen as we work together to "Save the Nation."