148th Fighter Wing focuses on Airmen

U.S. Air Force Col. John Slocum, the Air National Guard?s safety director, discusses the Maintenance Resource Management (MRM) program and Wingman concepts with Airmen from the 148th Fighter Wing at the Duluth, Minn., Air National Guard base June 12, 2010. MRM training was presented to maintence personnel in conjuction with a base wide "Wingman Stand-down."  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Jason W. Rolfe)

U.S. Air Force Col. John Slocum, the Air National Guard?s safety director, discusses the Maintenance Resource Management (MRM) program and Wingman concepts with Airmen from the 148th Fighter Wing at the Duluth, Minn., Air National Guard base June 12, 2010. MRM training was presented to maintence personnel in conjuction with a base wide "Wingman Stand-down." (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Jason W. Rolfe)

DULUTH, Minn. -- The 148th Fighter Wing participated in a "Wingman Stand-down" June 12 in an effort to preserve the Air Force's greatest resource--it's Airmen.

The four-hour stand-down, directed by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, was designed primarily to elevate awareness of suicide prevention, motor vehicle accidents, and motorcycle accidents through training sessions emphasizing the importance of Airmen taking care of each other.

The training sessions, offered several times throughout the day, were more than a series of one-sided lectures and slideshows. The audience was encouraged to interact with the presenters, answering questions based on a series of scenarios depicting Airmen considering suicide, dealing with domestic assault, and unsafe driving.

"The reason it's important, is that it reenergizes our wingman concept and because there has been a rise in suicides and motor vehicle accidents in the Air Force community," said Master Sgt. Matt C. Wolff, a member of the wing safety office and presenter for the training sessions.

The Air Force has reportedly lost 27 Airmen this year to suicide, and on average, loses 50 Airmen in automobile and motorcycle accidents annually.

Air Guard officials reported that suicide has claimed seven Air Guard members this year, and another 10 Airmen were lost to automobile, motorcycle, recreational and other ground mishaps.

Guard members were greeted by a crashed car display provided by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) as they entered the base. The display provided a glimpse of the aftermath caused by drunk driving.

However, drunk driving is not the sole cause of motor vehicle accidents. The motor vehicle safety portion of the training sessions pointed to distracted driving, talking or text messaging while driving, failure to wear seat belts, and speeding as other significant factors in remaining safe while operating a motor vehicle.

A motorcycle, accompanied by the recommended personal protective equipment, was placed in plain view of the lunch line to allow Guard members to familiarize themselves with what is available to keep them safe on the roadways.

Col. John Slocum, the Air National Guard's safety director, was also on hand to discuss maintenance resource management, which tied in with the wingman concept being expounded upon in the training sessions. "Just because it hasn't happened, doesn't mean it never will. So we have to prepare now," said Slocum.