Andersen mobility Airmen fall for safety

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --

The 734th Air Mobility Squadron completed a fall protection training exercise here, June 12.

Fifty-five feet in the air, secured by harness, Airmen practiced a training situation detailing the hazards and protocols they may face if an individual falls from the tail section of a C-17 Globemaster III while performing different safety inspections and repairs.

To start the exercise, a training dummy was strapped into a Personal Fall Arrest System and brought to the highest point of the C-17. The dummy was then dropped over the side of the tail wing to dangle with simulated minor injuries from the initial fall until a rescue team was dispatched to safely recover and descend the dummy to the ground.

“Many Airmen believe the danger is over after successfully arresting the initial fall, but this is not the case,” said Master Sgt. Benjamin Mayhew, 734th AMS chief safety officer. “Due to orthostatic intolerance or suspension trauma, time is ticking against the Airmen before serious medical problems can occur.”         

When someone is suspended in a safety harness, they have about 3 to 10 minutes before suspension trauma effects such as dizziness and fainting can take hold, stated Mayhew. Through training, the squadron is making strides to minimize the amount of time and learning new ways to counter the effects while in the harness.

The 734th AMS recently won the 2016 Air Force-level Outstanding Achievement Award for Occupational Safety Category V due in part to the advancements they are making to train their Airmen through exercises. Members are now able to slow the effects of suspension trauma and follow new safety guidelines by practicing response procedures. Airmen are constantly reminded to follow their mission statement, “Safely, by the book, then on time!”

“Our guys spend hours learning the ins-and-outs of all the equipment before putting any of it to use,” said Master Sgt. Kristopher Savell, 734th AMS quality assurance chief inspector. “Attention to detail and proper training means that even if something goes wrong, it’s still the best case scenario for that situation.”

Keeping everyone safe and making sure proper rules are followed by everyone, Savell makes it his responsibility to keep all Airmen operating as safely as possible.

“We are always looking for improvements and learning lessons from these kinds of exercises,” Savell said. “Knowing how we can save time and what works or doesn't work now, means we are better prepared for tomorrow’s mission.”