NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. â€” Arriving on scene, first responders rush to the aid of a summer heat victim. As one of the responders starts to treat the victim the unthinkable happens: the first responder is now victim number two.
â€œIâ€™ve seen it happen first hand,â€ said Staff Sgt. William Croker, 99th Security Forces Flight Chief for Alpha Two. â€œYouâ€™re attending to a victim and all of a sudden you have one of your other first responders pass out because they werenâ€™t hydrated, and now you have to take care of that victim and the other first responder. It can make a difficult job even harder.â€
First responders work in stress-filled environments where they often experience burnout, â€œexhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.â€ When first responders reach the burnout point, safety decisions can be neglected and lead to harmful results. Thatâ€™s why Nellis first responders train and take daily precautions.
â€œYou have to keep safety in the forefront of your mind,â€ Croker said. â€œThere are ongoing briefings daily about safety. Every day we have a morning formation before we go out and we brief about â€“ especially with how hot it is â€“ how important it is to stay hydrated and to take care of your partners.â€
Looking out for wingmen is always among first respondersâ€™ top priorities. That priority is crucial â€“ not only during the summer months, but at all times.
â€œBe a great wingman, an engaged supervisor and the one who sets the example for safety both on and off duty,â€ said Maj. Gen. Gregory Feest, Air Force Chief of Safety, in a statement on the Air Force Safety Center website.
The majority of Air Force fatalities take place during the summer months. Safety incidents at Nellis increase during these times, too. Last year Nellis had nine on-duty safety incidents and seven off-duty incidents.
Croker said it is important for first responders to ensure theyâ€™re taking care of themselves to perform their job adequately, but itâ€™s everyoneâ€™s responsibility to maintain personal risk management. Every safety incident is preventable.
The Critical Days of Summer safety campaign runs from May 25 through Sept. 3, 2012. For more information about the Critical Days of Summer safety campaign visit http://www.afsec.af.mil/criticaldaysofsummer/.