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101 Critical Days of Summer wrap-up

Aviano Air Base, Italy -- The U.S. Air Force's '101 Critical Days of Summer' safety campaign came to a close for Aviano Airmen Tuesday after a four-day Labor Day weekend. 

But the 'War on Risk' continues year-round for all base people. 

The 31st Fighter Wing ended the campaign the same way it began during the Memorial Day weekend in May - with a safety call for the entire wing.
"We set several goals for ourselves during the May safety call - no debilitating injuries, stop the DUIs, and no fatalities," said Lt. Col. Todd Phinney, 31st FW chief of safety. "Unfortunately, we had a tough summer but I think we learned from those tragedies. It's important we don't forget our fallen Airmen from this summer, and we owe it to them to try and make sure those same mishaps don't occur again." 

The wing came together again June 21 for a safety stand-down day to refocus on safety issues, identifying risks and suggesting ways to help reduce them. The 31st Fighter Wing Commander, Brig. Gen. Robert Yates, declared "War Against Risk" with wing members literally standing behind him in the fight. 

"With the assets we have, we attacked the risks we identified and we've made great steps," said Colonel Phinney. 

The first step was to begin moving back the fence at the Roverado Gate to allow drivers a better view of coming traffic. More crosswalk signs went up and the base's first taxi service began operation Aug. 1.
U.S. Air Forces in Europe also agreed to give Aviano money to build a base jogging trail that will reduce the risk to runners on base. Construction is set to begin early next year. 

"These were all areas that base people identified; so many good things came out of the safety stand-down," said Colonel Phinney. 

The ideas and solutions have been making definite impact on the wing.
 "Although we didn't make our 30 percent reduction goal with major motor vehicle accidents, we still have fewer MMVs than we did last year, and last year was one of our lowest years in recorded history. So, we're making good strides there," said the safety chief. 

Workplace safety was also targeted and the wing hit a bullseye by reducing reportable mishaps by 75 percent. 

"People have done a wonderful job in the workplace, on the flightline or wherever they happen to be, ensuring they don't get hurt," said Colonel Phinney. "Lots of attention to detail went into this accomplishment." 

Driving under the influence was another area that Aviano Airman began making progress. 

"I would say August was a success with only one DUI," said the colonel. "That is a nice trend and, hopefully, the wing will keep that going.
"But we will never say that any DUI is acceptable. I think our nation expects more out of us than that," he said. "We're a nation at war, we wear the uniform, we're volunteers, and we have so many responsibilities." 

Although the 101 Critical Days is a finite period of time to focus on safety, the spirit of the campaign is something the wing safety chief said should continue throughout the year. 

"The emphasis just shifts from things like water safety, for example, to snow sport safety," he said. "Driving safety will be something the wing will continue to focus on and something that is even more dangerous in the upcoming months. We need to beware of slick roads, a drop in visibility from fog and reduced daylight hours, and children on their way to and from school. The safety focus should never stop."