Commander's Column - December

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Richard G. Buckley
  • 108th Maintence Group
Lt. Col. Richard G. Buckley, 108th Maintenance Squadron Commander
The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) continues to churn on. We can't help but get desensitized from the ongoing carnage, reading daily reports of the death and destruction that continues to plague the world. At this time we have 65 wing personnel deployed to the Area of Responsibility (AOR) directly in harm's way; add that to our 24/7 support to Operation's Noble Eagle and Enduring/Iraqi Freedom. Recently we were lucky enough to welcome home 12 of our Security Force members on Nov. 20 after the completion of their tour of duty (I am happy to say all returned home safe and sound to their families).
Our business is a dangerous one and we can never lose sight of our one true objective. Too many before us have paid the ultimate price for freedom, a sacrifice which doesn't ease the pain for those left behind. I am and have always been honored to serve alongside all of you; you are all professionals through and through.
Sunday of the November unit training assembly (UTA), the Maintenance Group was extremely fortunate not to have been reporting a Class A fatality on the flightline. One of our pneudraulics personnel got pinned in the boom sighting door pinch point of the KC-135E! It's by a sheer miracle that he's alive today and was able to enjoy the Thanksgiving Holiday with his family. Nowhere does it appear that he performed any maintenance in direct violation of a technical order or procedures that would've precluded him from putting himself in this situation.
However, technically legal but dead provides little solace for grieving survivors. Awareness of the inherent dangers of our actions should never be placed second to our overall safety or necessity to accomplish any task. We have immediately placed local restrictions on work being performed in this area, and have submitted WARNING's/changes to T.O's to ensure that no other member of our military team is injured. If you haven't listened to the actual cockpit voice recorder of the C-17 maintenance incident you should, it's a chilling example of what can happen when people don't follow prescribed/required procedures/technical data or apply what must be common safety practices.
No commander ever wants the unfortunate task of briefing a loved one on the death of a family member and certainly not for a preventable mishap. Safety in our business is paramount, anything less is unacceptable! The mission must happen, but not at the expense of our personnel and at unnecessary risk.
We had the 108th Wing Safety Day on Friday, Dec. 7, where terms like ORM (Operational Risk Management) and MRM (Maintenance Risk Management) were discussed in appropriate forums. Concepts and procedures, by which all personnel can analyze, manage and mitigate any/all aspects of a flight or maintenance task.
ORM can and should be applied to all facets of our work and lives. We take for granted the conditions/inherent danger involved in our work. What may seem second nature to us and just another day at the office is viewed completely differently by others whose paths we cross.
Common sense must prevail! Ask yourself, even though it doesn't say I can't do this in the Technical Order, does it really make sense that I should? Does everyone fully comprehend the task and their role? Is everyone qualified? What's my experience level? Do we have all the proper resources, regulations, T.O's, tools? If not then call a "TIME OUT!" Get everyone on the same page. We can't afford the price of hurting someone. We all will have to take risks at many points in our lives, the question is do we realize and understand where they all are?
Lastly, if someone does get hurt seriously, apply what we've learned in Self Aid Buddy Care (SABC) classes. Remember the ABC's; Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure and how to report an emergency/call for help. We were lucky this time!