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Make safety priority one this Labor Day weekend

Col. Greg Otey, 19th Airlift Wing commander

Col. Greg Otey, 19th Airlift Wing commander

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- We as an Air Force have experienced a very tragic week. Five Airmen were lost in a variety of mishaps: two automobile, one motorcycle, one drowning and one light plane crash. 

We don't know the causes of these mishaps because they are still under investigation. However, we know that one vehicle blew a tire, causing the operator to lose control. Was it due to an object in the road or ignored preventative maintenance? Only time will tell. In another mishap, indications are that alcohol was involved. 

These losses emphasize the need to continue stressing the proper application of risk management during off-duty activities. Commanders, supervisors at all levels, wingmen, husbands, wives and children have an obligation and the right to inquire into their subordinates', co-workers' and family members' activities and help them to assess the risk(s) involved and make proper risk decisions. 

Risk decisions are made easier if we follow three simple steps (ACT): 

Assess the risk. What are the hazards? If one or more of the hazards happens, how bad is it? How likely is it to happen? 

Consider the options to limit risk. What are the best choices? Who decides which choices to use? 

Take appropriate action based on the best choices - ACT. 

Compared to this time last year, our auto fatalities are up 150 percent, 10 this year compared to four. Motorcycle fatalities are equal at five each. We still haven't reached Labor Day weekend yet. 

I ask that commanders and supervisors look their people in the eyes and drill risk management into the conversation. It could make all the difference in saving lives. Our people are the most valuable resource we have! 

Thank you for all you do to provide our nation unrivaled C-130 Combat Airlift!