NEWS | March 21, 2012

Take time this 'Spring Break'

By Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Hudson Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Spring break is a term often associated with words such as wild and crazy, but this year it represents something much more serious - Air Mobility Command's 'Spring Break' safety campaign. The campaign is designed to deter members from taking risks that could put them in harm's way or behind bars.

Joint Base Charleston leaders are spreading the word about Spring Break, asking members to take time to reflect on the importance of risk management, decision making and to remind members that being safe should remain their top priority.

"As we enter the season where outdoor sports and other recreational activities go into full swing, we want to take this opportunity to remind everyone to think safety in everything they do - both on and off duty - that's really the intent of the Spring Break Safety Campaign," said Col. Richard McComb, JB Charleston Commander. "Whether you are an Airman, Sailor, Marine or Soldier, Operational Risk Management has to be part of your plan for success - it is an essential tool that must be used 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. If not used, it could result in service members or their families needlessly being put in harm's way. Each member is essential to the accomplishment of our mission - without one, we are all affected."

To help reach the goal of zero mishaps this spring and summer JB Charleston is conducting a two-day annual Motorcycle Safety Rodeo brief, March 23 at the JB Charleston - Air Base Theater and March 24 at the JB Charleston - Weapons Station Theater. The briefing is geared toward increasing safety awareness when riding a motorcycle, ensuring members use proper personal protective equipment and understand the rules of the road and motorcycle usage in South Carolina.

"This briefing is a great refresher for experienced riders. It reminds them of the importance of wearing the proper PPE and operating and maintenance procedures," said Chris Anderson, 628th chief of safety. "After the brief, members are able to ride as a group to the North Charleston Civic Center for the Palmetto Police Rodeo. After the rodeo, riders will go to the Short Stay Outdoor Recreation area for a burger burn. The ride is geared toward raising camaraderie and unites motorcycle riders."

AMC and JB Charleston leadership are pushing for the goal of zero mishaps this year as the warm months approach. The number of fatal mishaps during spring increased from two in 2009 and 2010 to three in 2011- all attributed to the use of alcohol, speed, poor risk decisions and lack of discipline.

The Navy has already had fatalities this year where alcohol was a contributing factor. According to previous statistics conducted by the Naval Safety Center, there were reports of six alcohol-related fatalities in 2010 to 2011 and nine in 2009 to 2010.

"One way JB Charleston leaders are trying to deter drunk driving is by placing  wrecked vehicles on both sides of the base. This is mainly geared for the average 18 to 26-year-old that is statistically more likely to recieve a Driving Under the Influence," said Anderson. "We hope service members will think twice after seeing the wrecked cars we have on display. Our slogan is; 'check yourself before you wreck yourself' and that is exactly what service members need to do."

Service members can avoid getting behind the wheel of a car after a night of drinking by having a backup plan, a designated driver or by utilizing the Air Force program Airmen Against Drunk Driving at 963-AADD.

"There has been a growing trend of DUI's on both the Air Base and Weapons Station which has leadership concerned," said Anderson. "One way each unit and command is able to deter members from drinking and driving is to talk to them; face-to-face involvement, making sure they have a plan in place and have a backup plan just in case."

"Safety plays a big role in our everyday operations here at JB Charleston," said Cmdr. Charles Phillip, Naval Support Activities Charleston executive officer. "With a high operational tempo, it is of the upmost importance that our service members adhere to the protocol, procedures and guidelines that have been set in place for their safety. But safety not only applies during working hours. Members need to make safety a priority off duty as well. We know our young service members want to go out and have fun and enjoy a drink or two. We are not telling anyone not to. We are telling them to do it responsibly - that is the key.

"There is such a thing as over doing it and it could damage a service member's career if not end it entirely," Phillip concluded. "If a service member fails to report in on Monday morning, then we have a mission impact. What a service member does on their off-time can and does affect the overall mission and operational readiness of each command and unit - bottom line, think before you act."