137 ARW hosts nationwide ANG safety course

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kasey Phipps
  • 137th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
The 137th Air Refueling Wing safety office hosted an Air National Guard-funded safety orientation course here, Feb. 22-25, 2016.

The course's instruction focused on training personnel to embody and promote the Air Force's total force safety initiatives while protecting Airmen and their environments from hazards in order to accomplish the Air Force's mission in air, space and cyberspace.

"People are our greatest resource in the Air Force and their safety is ultimately our goal," said Senior Master Sgt. Scott Tontegode from the 155th Air Refueling Wing in Lincoln, Nebraska, one of two instructors for the course. "We want to make sure that they stay safe."

The nearly eight-hour, four-day long course provided the 21 students, who mainly consist of Unit Safety Representatives and full-time safety personnel from here and the 190th Air Refueling Wing, Topeka, Kansas, with an introduction to the new Air Force Safety Management System as the framework for the mishap prevention program.

"I feel this course sets a strong foundation for USRs, far more than just the typical Computer Based Training that is required," said Master Sgt. John Hernandez, 137th safety and occupational health manager. "This course engages the member in conversation and forces them to use critical thinking. It also allows them to practice 'real-world' application of what they learned ... from my personal experience, 'hands-on' experience greatly outweighs what can be learned from a CBT."

The course featured a mock inspection of an industrial work area, which provided students with the experience needed to help prevent hazards in work areas at their own bases as well as find solutions for possible hazards.

"They get to experience an inspection at all levels, and it really ties together the whole course," said the other instructor for the course, Senior Master Sgt. Ronny Grina from the 120th Air Wing in Great Falls, Montana. "It takes every block the student has just learned, puts it together and makes the student apply it."

Moreover, with four of the students from Kansas and both instructors from out of state, the course helps to standardize safety, literally across the map.

"We've had everyone from senior airmen to colonels come in and sit through our class," said Tontegode. "It's relevant to everyone across the Air Force, regardless of rank. Safety is everybody's business."

For the 137th, the more members who enter that "business" as USRs, the better.

"It's very difficult for the safety office to visit the units day in and day out," said Hernandez. "So this course enables a USR to act as an extension of our office and bring to our attention anything that could impact the safety and health of our members."

The safety course, first held in 1990, was developed for the Air National Guard by ANG safety managers and has seen 6,200 students pass through its curriculum. The now yearly 10 to 12 geographically organized courses cover entry-level training requirements for unit safety representatives and supervisors, plus some.

"The ultimate goal is mishap prevention," said Tontegode. "That's our bottom line; we don't bend metal or hurt people."