Arizona Airmen renew commitment to safety

  • Published
  • By Capt. Rebecca Cruz
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Resilience, risk and readiness were key topics of discussion among Arizona Air Guard members from the 161st Air Refueling Wing here Sept. 12.

More than 600 Airmen received five safety training presentations which covered safety, alcohol risk-management, suicide awareness, resilience, and sexual assault prevention. Known to wing Airmen as Safety Stand Down Day, the annual event is designed by the unit's safety office to provide meaningful and useful information and to raise awareness by focusing attention on safe and effective operations.

"We need to refocus our attention and strengthen our safety mindset," said Col. Gary Brewer, 161ARW commander. "Safety is everybody's business. Take a big step back and look at the risk in your sections. If you were taking shortcuts to stay mission capable; get back to the correct way of doing things."

Tim Neubauer, safety director at Atema Inc., started the presentations and discussed the benefits of a safety culture. Neubauer, a former senior consultant for the National Safety Council, is a safety professional with more than 15 years of field experience. He discussed the "R3SP: readiness, risk, resilience, and suicide prevention ." He pleaded with Airmen, "If you see something, say something." He encouraged supervisors to begin each meeting with the phrase, "Let's talk safety."

Following Neubauer, Lt. Col. John Conley, the wing staff judge advocate, spoke about alcohol risk-management. "Alcohol should not be used as a crutch or coping mechanism," said Conley. A first time offense can cost you anywhere from $16,000 to $27,000. He made it clear that the Arizona Code of Military Justice applies to all members of the Arizona National Guard every day, on and off duty.

Jason Schechterle, an inspirational guest speaker, spoke about resilience. Now a retired Phoenix police officer, his personal story of resilience stems from 2001 when his patrol car was struck from behind by a taxi cab and instantly burst into flames.

Over 50 percent of his body burned leaving him he temporarily blind with fourth degree burns. He hit absolute rock bottom when he was finally released from the hospital. He was not the same husband or father he used to be, he said. "I had to make a decision to be proud of I am. When it comes to resiliency, you need to go through all the emotions. You cannot just jump from point A to Z and accept everything that has happened to you," said Schechterle.

Maj. Tamela Demik, wing safety officer, said her office is interested in hearing everyone's ideas for improving safety in the workplace. "I'm looking for those good ideas you have. I don't care how I get this information--I just want it. I don't need your name or what section you are in," said Demik. "We just want to make sure everyone goes home safe and comes back to work safe."