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Wing leadership recognizes safety needs

Col. Erik Peterson, 115th Fighter Wing commander, speaks to Airmen in hangar 406 during a safety briefing in Madison, Wis., June 3, 2018.

Col. Erik Peterson, 115th Fighter Wing commander, speaks to Airmen in hangar 406 during a safety briefing in Madison, Wis., June 3, 2018. The briefing gave leadership an opportunity to discuss safety concerns and priorities base wide. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode)

Maj. Robert Sandwith, 115th Fighter Wing chief of safety, addresses Airmen in hangar 406 during a safety briefing in Madison, Wis., June 3, 2018.

Maj. Robert Sandwith, 115th Fighter Wing chief of safety, addresses Airmen in hangar 406 during a safety briefing in Madison, Wis., June 3, 2018. The briefing gave leadership an opportunity to discuss safety concerns and priorities base wide. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode)

MADISON, Wis. --

Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing gathered in hangar 406 for a Wing safety briefing June 3.

The briefing gave Col. Erik Peterson, 115th FW commander, and Maj. Robert Sandwith, 115th FW chief of safety, an opportunity to address safety concerns and priorities base wide.

“Obviously this is a serious issue within the Air Force,” Sandwith said. “What we do in our fighter wing is very serious.”

Air Force wide, the current mishap rate is on track to be double what it has been over the last few years.

“I take it for granted on a daily basis how to safely operate and that’s due to the awesome job everyone does out here,” he said.

Taking into account the rate at which work is being done, and the things being asked of the Airmen on a regular basis, there is only so much pressure that can be applied in order to maintain the high operational tempo the Air Force demands, Sandwith said. Things are starting to bend and potentially break in certain areas.

Peterson recognizes this.

“We do outstanding work,” Peterson said. “We are an outstanding Wing. But, in order to remain an outstanding Wing, we have to step back and assess. Today we’re doing a full down safety day because not only our full-timers, but every one of you, all 1200 of our Airmen, are critical to providing input to make sure we’re doing things properly and that we are doing them as efficiently and effectively as possible to serve our nation.”

Following the briefing, Airmen were sent back to their work stations to dive deeper into safety issues relative to their job duties.

“Our safety program and our culture must be proactive and must be integrated into the overall culture of the 115th Fighter Wing,” Peterson said. “So, today we will step back and we will assess ourselves, and we will evaluate the key aspects of our flying and maintenance operations.”

Airmen not only had the opportunity to discuss their concerns in groups, but were also given a phone number to text if they did not feel comfortable bringing up their concerns in a group setting.

“All of us are crucial in identifying the gaps and seams that may lead to future mishaps,” Peterson said. Each and every one of you have not only the responsibility, but the right to call a ‘knock-it-off’ for safety. You are our most valuable assets, and I take your safety extremely seriously.”

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