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Critical Days of Summer Message, 2009

  • Published
  • By Michael B. Donley, Secretary of the Air Force
  • & Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Chief of Staff
All Airmen - officer, enlisted and civilian - are our number one priority. Each of you is a member of our Air Force family. Just like in your family, throughout the coming months it will be important for us to watch out for each other as we enjoy summer activities.

To help this effort, on 22 May we begin our annual "Critical Days of Summer" campaign. This year's campaign lasts 109 days and ends on 7 September. Reaching our goal of zero accidents and fatalities requires every Airman to be a wingman, mentor and safety leader. Whether it is personal leadership in risk management or calling "knock it off" as appropriate, you must be proactive in your approach to saving lives this summer. There are four campaign focus areas this summer.

Traffic Safety. Motorcycle and automobile mishaps are the greatest single killer of our Airmen and as of this date, we have already lost as many Airmen this year as we did all of last year. We must reverse this negative trend immediately. Airmen everywhere must carefully manage trip risks and reduce their speed. We also have an unusually high number of passengers killed in automobile collisions. This alarming trend is reversible if all Airmen wear their seatbelts regardless of their seating position in an automobile.

Alcohol Awareness and Fatigue. Slightly more than one-third of our automobile fatalities incude alcohol as a factor. Personal accountability and wingman intervention are our best tools to reduce drinking and driving. Likewise, fatigue is another contributing factor to fatalities that needs our focus.

Drowning Prevention. Several Airmen drown every year, typically in lakes and local "swimming holes." Do not mix alcohol and swimming, and watch overextending yourself. The number one mishap prevention tool for drowning is a personal flotation device.

During the last 11 summer campaigns, we lost an average of 24 Airmen and even though last year we experienced one of our safest summers ever, we still lost 17 Airmen. The Air Force Safety Center will provide high quality mishap prevention information for this year's campaign, but information alone does not prevent mishaps. It takes each of us to save lives, and we have a responsibility to teach, mentor, and provide the right message for the Critical Days of Summer Campaign. Let's make this year's summer our safest one yet.