Find Them!

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux
  • 82nd Training Wing commander
This week, our 2AF Commander, Maj. Gen. Mike Gould, sent a letter to his wing commanders on the topic of fatality prevention.

So far this fiscal year, six 2AF members have died in accidents--that's more than all of FY06. One of those deaths was a Team Sheppard Airman who had just graduated from tech training here and was on his way to his first duty station--he was killed in a motor vehicle accident where speed (his) was a factor.

All of the 2AF fatalities could have been prevented--but no one found them before they happened.

We never know when an accident may take the life of a fellow Airman, civilian or family member; but we need to work together to prevent these terrible tragedies that inflict so much pain, suffering and loss on our Air Force family. We need to find these potential victims before they become fatalities.

Unfortunately, I believe we are vulnerable to losing someone from Team Sheppard due to a motor vehicle accident in the coming months to one of three scenarios: 1. failure to wear seat belts, 2. motorcycle mishap, 3. Airman-in-Training traveling to their next duty station.

Why do I say that?

First, there are many people on our base who still don't wear their seat belts. On a recent safety check, we found as many as 20 percent of drivers stopped were not wearing their seat belts - on base. In my mind, there's no such thing as "forgetting" to put on your seat belt. It's either an ingrained habit pattern or it's not.

For those of you not in the habit, change your ways. There's a very good chance that you'll be involved in a serious accident some day; and without your seat belt, there's a very good chance you won't survive. We don't want to attend your funeral.

Second, we've got a lot of motorcycle riders here at Sheppard due to our large population, warm climate and straight roads. Spring is a classic time for motorcycle accidents due to extreme weather, inexperienced riders, and poorly-maintained bikes.

If you ride a motorcycle, you can significantly reduce you chances of being a fatality by being properly trained, wearing the proper personal protective equipment and not riding in bad weather.

Finally, every week, hundreds of Airmen leave Sheppard headed for their first duty station. Many of these Airmen have driven very little in the previous weeks and are distracted by the excitement of their first PCS assignment. Our training squadrons need to ensure each of our departing Airmen are well rested, have and execute a good travel plan and are driving vehicles that are properly inspected and safe.

Until they arrive at their first duty station, they're still our Airmen.

I challenge all of us to "find" the above potential fatalities and intervene before they occur. Find the seat-belt non-user. Find the motorcycle rider who doesn't wear the right protective gear. Find the Airman who's at risk of an accident while driving to his first base.

Let's find them all and save their lives!

Thanks Team Sheppard--don't just be safe this weekend, but help others be safe too.