NORAD and USNORTHCOM think safety
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — With the hot summer finally here, the winter chill has faded, and people are increasingly taking part in outside activities. Along with all the summer fun are the day-to-day summer dangers like family travel, sunburns, heat exposure, severe weather, and poisonous plants.
How do North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command personnel stay mission-ready when faced with these summertime risks? By employing deliberate safety practices.
“Safety practices are not considered an afterthought or a separate category of decision making, our people integrate Risk Management practices into all we do, both during our on-duty environment and our off-duty time” said Mike McKenzie, NORAD and USNORTHCOM Command Safety Officer.
Since the early 1980s, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day has been designated by the Defense Department as the “101 Critical Days of Summer,” because there is an historical rise in fatalities sustained by military members during off-duty activities.
Safety Office personnel and directorate representatives in the commands operate an ongoing program to educate personnel of their responsibility to practice stringent safety measures in and around their duty sections, as well as during their off-duty activities.
“Continuing [education] efforts challenge our people to become more aware, to manage the risks involved in their activities, and to take personal actions to prevent accidents," McKenzie said. "Positive messages by our senior leadership, supervisory involvement, and individual planning have significant impact in ensuring our people and their families remain safe.”
“The enemies of safety are carelessness and complacency”, McKenzie said. In fact, most accidents are actually the result of predictable and preventable occurrences, and most injuries are preventable according to Martin Lesperance who is a fire fighter, paramedic, safety speaker, and author, in an article published by Safety Health Publishing, Inc. For example, if a person knowingly drives with bald tires, and one of them blows out and causes the person to lose control of the car and crash, this is not an accident. It’s a predictable and preventable event.
“Safety needs to be like breathing. It is something we must be aware of and do at all times," said Lt. Col. Roy Reizovic, NORAD and USNORTHCOM Reserve Forces Safety Readiness Group member. "While our NORAD and USNORTHCOM mission requires us to perform certain activities, most of these are relatively safe office actions. However, if we are not safe in all that we do, from picking up a box of paper to walking down a flight of stairs, then we may not be able to accomplish our mission.”
NORAD and USNORTHCOM personnel have many sources of safety information available. Newcomers to the commands learn about local safety challenges during the Newcomers’ Orientation Course. Personnel and their families may also attend specialized safety courses, including health and wellness classes and promoting healthy lifestyles, offered through the Peterson Air Force Base safety and health wellness centers.
"101 Critical Days of Summer," but throughout the entire year. He also suggests that people take the time to explore time-proven safety guidance and instructions from manufacturers when operating new or unfamiliar equipment.
“Pertaining to our unique missions with NORAD and USNORTHCOM, we have an awesome challenge, not only to make safe choices, but to take care of ourselves so that we will be ready to defend North America from attack,” McKenzie said. "If we are careless, mishaps occur, and our readiness and posture is adversely affected.
“Our homeland security mission enables us to make a positive difference in other peoples’ lives by providing for the safety of our nations."
NORAD is the bi-national Canadian and American command that is responsible for the air defense of North America and maritime warning. USNORTHCOM is the unified combatant command responsible for defending the homeland and providing defense support of civil authorities.