For many, “wingman” is just a buzzword or something discussed at stand-down days. However, Airmen across Air Force Materiel Command are putting the wingman concept into action.
“As AFMC continues to emphasize a culture of respect and resiliency, it is important to remember that we all have a responsibility to be accountable for ourselves and to be accountable as a wingman,” said Jennifer Treat, AFMC Community Support Coordinator. “A good wingman stays alert for signs of danger from whatever source — whether suicide, safety mishaps, alcohol abuse, sexual assault, bullying, or something else; gets involved by knowing their fellow Airmen; and takes action when necessary to protect their wingman, on and off duty.”
In one example of successful wingman intervention, some co-workers and friends of an Airman received a frantic phone call from that Airman’s family saying the Airman was distressed and had attempted suicide. They immediately went to the Airman’s house and discovered the Airman had tried to overdose on prescription medication. One wingman induced vomiting while another called emergency services. Thanks to the prompt attention of the wingmen and emergency responders, the Airman received treatment and recovered — and the Airman’s family was spared the loss of a loved one. Following the distressed Airman’s hospitalization, the wingmen continued to provide support to their friend.
In another situation, a vigilant wingman observed the medical distress of his friend, a fellow Airman. The Airman’s symptoms seemed life-threatening, and the wingman’s self-aid and buddy care training immediately kicked in. The wingman instructed others to call for emergency assistance while he kept the distressed Airman calm and safe. Because of the life-saving actions of a concerned wingman, the Airman was transported to the local hospital and stabilized.
In yet another example, two wingmen were talking to a friend before the weekend, when the individual expressed thoughts of suicide. The wingmen stayed in close contact with the distressed Airman throughout the weekend and secured items which the Airman might have used for self-harm. On Monday morning, the wingmen escorted their friend to the Mental Health Clinic and secured counseling services. Thanks to the wingmen acting on their concern, the distressed Airman was connected with right helping agencies.
“In AFMC, and across the Air Force, we accomplish our mission as a dedicated team committed to our core values and to each other,” Treat said. “Success rests with Airmen engaging with other Airmen in a way that fosters communication and connection. AFMC is proud to have true wingmen who look out for the welfare of their colleagues and community.”
AFMC has been consciously building the concept of wingman intervention since 2004. The goals are to raise awareness of helping behaviors, increase the motivation to help, develop the skills and confidence to intervene and assist when necessary, and ensure the safety and well-being of self and others.
If you become aware of situations in which personnel have recognized at-risk behaviors and proactively intervened, please contact the Edwards AFB†Community Support Coordinator at (661) 277-6711.
Edwards AFB and AFMC’s goal is to highlight these situations as teachable moments to encourage similar behavior and continue its focus of maintaining a “Culture of Respect and Resiliency.”