We take care of each other... it’s the wingman thing to do|
Commentary by Lt. Col. Geoffrey Gibbs
42nd Air Base Wing Chief of Safety
5/24/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- As the proverbial "critical days of summer" begins this weekend, I thought of the endless statistics I could spout, the safety briefings you'll receive, the unique dangers that the summer months bring with them or I could emphasize the sad reality that one of our coworkers, friends or family members could likely no longer be with us on Sept. 4 when those "critical days" come to an end. We all know the realities far too well. Would I be telling you anything really new or of consequence? Would my emphasizing those realities really make a difference?
When I have the opportunity to speak on safety with others, I try to highlight the principle that each of us plays a role in enforcing safe practices. I think most people correlate that to the professional, work or installation environment, but absentmindedly forget about it the moment we drive off base. As I mentioned to many of the wing personnel after our recent warrior run, we relish the opportunity to get out and let loose, have some fun, push the envelope. But, can you, your friends or your family handle the consequences of pushing "through" that envelope?
The Army adopted the "Battle Buddy" which is similar to our "Wingman" concept. Though I'm sure they have their own issues, I've personally seen how the responsibility of the "Battle Buddy" in the Army often transcends the work environment. Those who take it to heart, take care of each other regardless of the circumstances, location or the environment, on and off duty. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying their program is necessarily better, but in practice could we be better "Wingmen"? Do we truly take care of each other? Are we willing to tell our friends not to take risks when we see them, but they don't...or don't care? Do we actively seek ways to help others figure out how to avoid or handle those risks?...or do we keep silent for fear of being rejected or ridiculed?
We've been very fortunate not to have suffered any fatalities in the recent past. Unfortunately, we continue to see traffic accidents on base, though thankfully none have resulted in significant injuries. Yet, it hasn't been all too long since we lost one of our own largely due to circumstances beyond their control. Sad thing is, I'm sure you know of individuals that didn't lose their life but could have...in circumstances that were fully within their control. Will they be so lucky "next time"? Will you take care of them and yourself "next time"? Are you truly the "Wingman" you can and ought to be?
Ultimately, what I tell you won't make a difference...what you tell yourself, however, will. Have fun this Summer, but let's all be here on 4 September...and beyond.