Critical Days half over

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- At the halfway point of this year's 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign, base safety officials say the number of mishaps has fallen compared to the same time last year.

But, they add, they want to encourage Team Offutt members to continue looking out for each other and themselves.

At this time last year the Air Force had experienced 18 fatalities. There have been 13 deaths so far this season.

In Air Combat Command the drop is less dramatic with five fatal incidents last year and four now. Team Offutt has lost one member this year as compared to none during last year's campaign.

Audrey Terry, the 55th Wing ground safety manager, attributes the service-wide reduction in injuries and deaths to both supervisors and peers doing their best to be good wingmen.

Ms. Terry said base personnel, while on duty, are using good operational risk management and plain common sense to keep themselves, their coworkers and buddies out of harm's way.

Ms. Terry also credits the 55th Wing Airmen deployed to Lincoln who she says are doing a great job taking care of each other.

"There have been no reported cases of heat injuries there so far. The bio-environmental people are doing a great job of keeping an eye on the wet-bulb globe temperature index and relaying that to supervisors so they can implement high-heat work cycles," said Ms. Terry. The WBGT is a heat stress indicator that considers the effects of temperature, humidity and radiant energy.

Observing modified work cycles and just staying on top of hydration goes a long way toward staving off the heat, she added.

While mishap numbers are down and things are moving in a positive direction, Ms. Terry said off-duty individuals still aren't always using sound judgment.

All four deaths in the command, so far, have come in the form of vehicle accidents where seatbelt restraints were not used or where alcohol played a contributing factor.

Ms. Terry pointed out that common activities and chores around member's residences have also been a source for injuries at the base level this year.

"I can think of two individuals who have lost at least part of a thumb while using power tools due to lack of attention to detail. It seems like people are just in a hurry and aren't taking the time to ask, 'Is this safe? Am I using all the personal protective equipment available to me? Is this a good idea?'" she said.

"While the numbers of mishaps are down there is still a long way to go," Ms. Terry said. "Individuals are still going to be on the lake, taking vacations, and participating in other high-risk activities during the rest of the summer. Watch out for each other and yourselves to make sure all of Team Offutt makes it safely to Labor Day."