by Gary S. Rudman
U.S. Air Forces Central, Safety Deputy Director
1/30/2013 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- It's
Thursday at 1615. The squadron just received a short-notice tasking for
a safety professional to deploy to an air expeditionary wing in
Afghanistan. The reporting date is in 18 days.
How could this happen? Who do I contact? How can I prepare? Tick tock, tick tock ...
How could this happen? Reclamas. While the reclama rate for safety
professionals has improved significantly, there is much more we can do.
The Air Force uses the Air Expeditionary Force Reporting Tool (ART) to
assign safety professionals to varied positions at deployed bases.
However, the data in ART isn't always accurate. It's not uncommon to
have a member described as "green" or good-to-go for a deployment only
to find out that the member is in 5-level upgrade training or on a
medical- limiting profile. So, how can accurate information be
communicated to ensure there isn't a safety reclama? Leadership
involvement ensures the most current information is available and
reduces the possibility of someone getting a short-notice deployment.
The clock is still ticking. When will my currencies expire? What about
my check ride? Is my ancillary training up to date? As soon as the
short-notice tasking is received, the member enters "go mode". There's a
lot to do and learn, with little time to accomplish the required
Preparation is key. A call to the U.S. Air Forces Central Safety Office
can help make your short preparation time effective. The office manages
air expeditionary wing and group safety programs spread across 15,000
nautical miles in support of 22,000 people and more than $900 billion in
assets. Through an eyes-on focus at all AEWs and AEGs, the USAFCENT
safety team can guide the deploying member in preparation for a
Next? Training ... what courses are needed and is there time to get
them? If you haven't already attended the Board President's Course, you
probably will not have time for a TDY now. Bottom line: Don't wait for a
deployment tasking to schedule training. Determine what safety training
you'll benefit from now; talk with your wing safety office and schedule
Now, visit public health to ensure your immunizations are current. Read the USAFCENT Supplement to Air Force Pamphlet 91-202, The U.S. Air Force Mishap Prevention Program, located on the Air Force Safety Center's publications page, and Air Force Pamphlet 91-216, USAF Safety Deployment and Contingency Pamphlet.
Obtain mobility gear and get current in your primary weapon. Finally,
if you're the home station chief of safety, make sure there's a plan to
keep the office running smoothly while you're deployed. Remember, there
are no backfills for the home station safety office.
Fast forward 18 days. The Boeing 767 is nearing touchdown at your
deployed location. What is my game plan? What should I do first? First
thing ... go everywhere, see everything and meet everybody. Every AEW
and AEG has an end-of-tour report. Use that for your starting point to
glean strengths, weaknesses, and areas that need improvement. Realize
you can't fix everything during your tour, but you might be able to
complete a few selected items.
Schedule an appointment with the AEW or AEG commander to discuss
critical items like commander priorities and battle rhythm. Talk about
the mishap response plan. Don't assume all mishaps will be
aviation-related. Determine if you'll be able to fly and at what
Work with civil engineering readiness to develop a major accident
response exercise (MARE). A real-world incident is often the first time a
new staff has to work together. A MARE allows key leadership to know
and understand others' roles to ensure success.
The fire hose is now in full effect. How long is a typical workday? Be
prepared for longer hours than a typical workday at home station. Where
is my office? The answer is 'everywhere'. You can't execute a wing
safety program from only a computer. Remember ... go everywhere, see
everything, meet everybody. Find out what's different ... fire danger,
infrastructure, flightline driving issues, explosives storage, confined
space programs. How much risk is accepted? What risks are still out
there? How can I deep dive to mitigate future risks?
Consider the aviation mishaps from a single deployed rotation at one AEW
- nine Class A's and nine Class B's. Those are the big ones. Don't
forget 25 Class C's and countless Hazardous Air Traffic Reports (HATR)
and Bird-Wildlife Strike Hazard (BASH) reports. And, there are no more
than two flight safety officers at an air expeditionary wing to
investigate the HATR/BASH incidents.
What about interim safety boards? Imagine an aircraft just landed
gear-up on your single runway. How long will it take to get the runway
open? What will the interim safety board (ISB) need to do to preserve
evidence? How long will it take to select a permanent safety
investigation board (SIB) and when will those members arrive? It may
take a week or more for the SIB to arrive, so be prepared to take
control. What are the critical factors? In this case, it's single-runway
operations. When can we resume operations? When will we move the
aircraft? Are airbags available? Is there a crane? Is this reflected in
the wing's mishap response plan? Tick ... tock ...
What is your safety discipline? Ground safety? Do you know flight and
weapons? If the answer is "No", it's time to learn! Are you a flight
safety officer? Can you speak Weapons 101? Do you know these acronyms:
IBD, PTR and IMD? Have you looked at a weapons site plan? What if you
need to present this critical information to the commander? You could
very well be the chief of safety. You're expected to know.
Get ready ... NOW! The better you're educated, the better you will
perform in the deployed environment. Don't wait for the tasking.
Contact the USAFCENT Safety Office at 803-895-3179, DSN 965-3179, or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org), for an overview of deployed safety position duties and contact information for deployed base safety offices