101 Critical Days of Summer: Make safe decisions!

  • Published
  • By Kevin Ennis
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Safety
The 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign will soon be here. Since the early 1980s, this annual safety campaign has started on Memorial Day weekend and run through Labor Day weekend. During this time period, the potential for Air Force personnel to experience a mishap or fatality increases.

Without question, summer is an enjoyable season and one that offers countless off-duty activities. Team Hurlburt Airmen will certainly take advantage of our Gulf Coast location, weather and long summer days to have fun and relax. Yet this time also requires our focused efforts to aggressively prevent senseless injuries and the loss of life. Unfortunately, last summer, Hurlburt Field experienced two private motor vehicle fatalities and multiple off-duty mishaps causing injuries that resulted in hospitalization and lost duty time for the people involved.

Smart decisions coupled with sound personal risk management can reduce mishaps and help keep us all safe this summer. Almost every mishap is preventable if we make good decisions. A smart decision might be something as simple as deciding to stick to the rules, checking the weather, planning your vacation route, knowing when to say "knock it off" and bringing along a Wingman when you head to the beach.

Vehicle and motorcycle operations always present a potential for serious or fatal mishaps. That's why attending mandatory safety training sessions, wearing seatbelts and protective equipment, traveling at safe speeds, staying alert and avoiding distractions like cell phones should be our normal way of doing business. It also goes without saying that driving while impaired is never acceptable.

We must also embrace the idea that sports and recreational activities are for enjoyment. We should discourage "win at all cost" behaviors where people become over-aggressive or reckless in an effort to win. We see sports- and recreation-related injuries to Hurlburt Airmen almost every day, and a number of these activities are risky enough without adding the aggressive behavior.

Over the next several months, Airmen will be flooded with safety information in an effort to educate the force and promote safety. Unfortunately, unless we lead by example and reinforce sound personal risk management the educational efforts are likely to be ineffective. Risk management is crucial to our success and each of us must be accountable for our actions. The bottom line is simple: think before you act. Making the right decision at the right time can prevent a mishap.

Last year during the 101 CDS, the Air Force lost 22 Airmen and many more were injured. I'll bet not one person thought "it could happen to me." With this in mind, use safety information to make smart decisions and support your Wingmen. This year's 101 CDS campaign slogan is "live to play, play to live." Everyone is encouraged to have a fun summer, but in doing so, please remember that any loss of a member of our team in a preventable off-duty mishap is unacceptable. As always, our goal is zero mishaps, which will take strong leadership, good decision making and each of us looking out for one another.