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LIFE DOESN'T REWIND

Col. James L. Fisher, AETC director of safety

Col. James L. Fisher, AETC director of safety

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- We are in the heart of the Critical Days of Summer. This time has historically been the season when our service sees a significant increase in safety mishaps and a corresponding rise in lost lives and shattered families. As the critical days campaign kicks off Memorial Day weekend (toward the end of May), our senses are heightened as the cautions come fast and furious through articles, commander's calls and other venues. But as the summer days turn into weeks and months, it can cause our focus to wane a bit, our vigilance to ebb. As a matter of fact, in the past 10 years, 58 percent of Air Education and Training Command's summer mishap fatalities occurred after July 15 - the second half of the critical days. In the past five years, that number has jumped to an alarming 71 percent! Finishing out the last half of the Critical Days of Summer is when we have been most vulnerable. And for some of us, we never get a second chance.

That's why this year at Headquarters AETC Safety we are striving to keep our edge throughout the summer with a new campaign titled "Life Doesn't Rewind." AETC Commander Gen. Robin Rand kicked off the campaign with a video, which highlights the idea that no matter how much we might like to, we can't go back and change our poor decisions after we know the outcome of a situation. Our "Life Doesn't Rewind" video series can be found on the AETC First Command YouTube site.

In most mishaps, as you look back and investigate them, there is usually a chain of events or decision points that lead to the mishap. It is very rare that only one significant misstep or bad decision leads to a catastrophic ending. In most cases, multiple factors, whether environmental, human or mechanical, combine to put someone into a position where a mishap is bound to happen. Usually, when you look back, if any one of those "links" in the chain had been broken, a mishap could have been avoided. Unfortunately, we normally are only looking backward after a mishap has occurred.

As we progress through the summer, you will plan family vacations while the kids are out of school. You will participate in fun outdoor activities both on the water and on land, whether rafting, boating, swimming, backpacking or riding offroad motorcycles. Additionally, you will be exposed to the summer heat of South Texas, Arizona, Florida or any one of our other AETC southern-tiered bases. At work, on the flight lines or in your industrial or other job areas, heat will be a significant contributor to your already demanding duty requirements. Please continue to use all your risk management techniques, identifying risks and implementing controls to mitigate them. Use these techniques in your work centers as well as in your off-duty pursuits.

While each of us works hard during the year so that we can enjoy our summer pursuits, the loss of a single Airman, family member or loved one might be avoided if we take the time to break the chain of events that leads up to a mishap. Please remember that "Life Doesn't Rewind" and give us the opportunity to look back at our bad decisions after the fact, so remain vigilant. Finally, while you are looking at your own decision-making and risk management techniques, be a good wingman and look out for your fellow Airman.