AFSPC commander sends Labor Day safety message

  • Published
  • By Gen. C. Robert Kehler
  • Air Force Space Command commander
Labor Day marks the end of summer and the last few days of the 2009 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign. We lost a valuable member of our AFSPC family in June -- not on vacation; just driving home from work on a two-lane blacktop in the middle of the day. Based upon Air Force statistics, four Airmen die each month while driving, riding or swimming. Let's stop this trend and end the summer season without another fatality.

Many of our Air Force fatalities this year were caused by other drivers. It's a combat zone out there. You must remain vigilant every time you drive or ride -- stay off your cell phone and wear your seat belt. One third of the Airmen who died in automobile mishaps this summer were ejected from their vehicles because they didn't wear a seat belt. Statistics tell us that if you don't wear a seat belt, you are 29 times more likely to be ejected; and if ejected, your chances of survival are slim.

When operating a motorcycle, wear all your personal protective equipment, slow down when approaching an intersection or curve, drive defensively and watch closely the actions of those around you. In many motorcycle fatalities other drivers are quoted as saying, "I looked, but I never saw him."

If drinking is in your plans, then don't plan on operating a motor vehicle. In fact, don't drink to excess regardless of whether you would intend to drive. If you're on the water, never swim alone and never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You need all of your skills to stay alive.

Prior to the Labor Day weekend, I expect all commanders and supervisors to make eye-to-eye contact with each of their Airmen and find out what activities are planned; provide sound mentorship and help them evaluate the risks they may face. Cover all the bases: cell phones, seat belts, defensive driving, motorcycle ppe, speeding, water sports safety and alcohol.

Finally, be a good wingman and encourage others to do the same. You are accountable for your actions and those around you -- "warriors taking care of warriors" on and off duty. Wingman responsibilities don't stop there -- you also have a responsibility to be a good wingman for your family and your friends. You know the risks; you know what to do.

Have a wonderful and safe Labor Day weekend.