Daily operational risk management keeps Airmen safe

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jake Chappelle
  • 446 Airlift Wing Public Affairs
With 101 Critical Days of summer, Memorial Day through Labor Day, well in swing, it is easy for Airmen to leave operational risk management off their everyday activities.

"ORM doesn't always stop on weekdays at 4:30 p.m.," said Lt. Col. Kevin Welin, 446th Airlift Wing chief of safety. "You must always be smart and apply ORM to your everyday activities."

Operational risk management is a decision-making process to systematically evaluate possible courses of action by identifying risks and benefits, and determine the best course of action for any given situation. The ultimate goal is to enhance mission effectiveness at all levels, while preserving assets and safeguarding health and welfare.

"ORM is basically applied common sense," said Colonel Welin. "There are plenty of things to do in the summer. No matter what activity you choose, the situation has to be assessed."

ORM can be broken down into three easy steps: assess the risk, consider options to limit unnecessary risk, and take appropriate action. All an Airman has to do is "ACT."

According to the Air Force Safety Center, there have already been 30 off-base Airmen fatalities, mostly from accidents, this year.

"There is an average of about five fatalities involving motorcycles during the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day," said Colonel Welin. "These are the prime months for motorcycle riding. Closer to each holiday, the fatalities have been alcohol related."

"Riding a motorcycle on Interstate 5 during Friday night rush hour traffic, on a holiday weekend, is like asking your wife if it is okay to go fishing with the boys on Saturday, your anniversary," said Colonel Welin. "You have to ask yourself if you feel 'lucky.' Is the potential outcome worth the risk?"

The Air Force Safety Center reports that in 2007, motor vehicle accidents accounted for most of the fatalities, with eight mishaps due to cars and other four-wheeled vehicles, and another six due to motorcycles. Some factors in these mishaps included speeding and not using seat belts or helmets. Alcohol was a factor in two incidents.

An article written by Lt. Col. Lew Harding, 940th Air Refueling Wing chief of safety at Beale AFB, Calif., illustrates that motorcycle riders should be aware of the risks. Just when a rider thinks he's seen it all, he'll see something new.

According to Colonel Harding, a rider should follow these basic rules:

1) Don't mix motor cycling with any intoxicant, including alcohol or any prescription or over the counter drugs that may cause drowsiness.
2) Speed and tricks kill. Follow the speed limit and don't weave in and out of traffic.
3) Riders should follow the front, rear, left and right zones of their bike. Keep an open zone for an escape maneuver.
4) Maintain the motorcycle because a rider's life depends on it.
5) Attend motorcycle training.

Proactive training in motorcycle riding is the key, said Colonel Welin.

Puget Sound Safety offers classes taught on Fort Lewis for novice, intermediate and experienced riders. For more information, call them at (253) 531-4585.

For questions or more safety information, contact the 446th Wing Safety Office at 253-982-2050.