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Safety manager urges wing members to take care

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Since the start of the Air Force's 101 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign on Memorial Day, there have been six mishaps at Patrick AFB that have caused people to miss work.

These mishaps are part of only nine total mishaps across Air Force Space Command as of June 19.

These mishaps are classified by the Air Force as Class C mishaps, where the victim fully recovers, but misses work in the process. The office also tracks Class A mishaps, which are fatalities, and Class B mishaps, which result in permanent disabilities.

Chris Olesnevich, 45th SW Ground Safety manager, said that for every accident that occurs, money is lost. "Depending on rank, there's a cost associated with each incident," he said.

For example, a captain with the 1st Range Operations Squadron was struck in the mouth playing basketball, breaking a tooth. That resulted in two days confined to quarters at a cost of $850.

Most of the mishaps this summer have involved injuries from falling. "It's very cyclical," said Mr. Olesnevich. "Last year most of the injuries were sports-related, then it was people injuring themselves riding motorcycles, now it's falls. In six months it may go back to motorcycles."

One of the more extreme falling cases is of one base employee who tripped over a curb in a parking lot and broke her arm. This incident put her in the hospital for two days and in quarters for 58 days, costing the base $21, 232.

"This portrays a bad light on the good work we do here," said Mr. Olesnevich regarding the fact that Patrick is currently leading AFSPC in Class C mishaps, which he attributes to a lack of focus. "We work in a hazardous environment, and people aren't paying attention to their walking surfaces."

Besides urging people to be more aware and watching where they're walking, Mr. Olesnevich also warns Airmen against putting themselves in situations that could result in Class A mishaps.

"A big problem we see in summer is Airmen going on leave and thinking: 'Okay, I can drive home to Pittsburgh non-stop in 15 hours, and then have the rest of my vacation'," he said.

"We stress that commanders stay on top of what their personnel are doing, making sure they're well rested when they go on trips." In addition, commanders need to warn against drinking and driving, and support services such as Airmen Against Drunk Drivers and the various designated driver incentives which are available.

The bottom line to Mr. Olesnevich is that whatever the time or place, by slowing down and paying attention to detail, "people can prevent their own mishaps."