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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Safety officials at South Korea’s biggest air base are crediting a summertime safety campaign with slashing this summer’s accident rate almost in half.

That’s significant because the season’s increased outdoor activities, and the injuries they can cause, have led Air Force safety officers to label the May 24 to Sept. 1 period the “101 Critical Days of Summer.”

Every year, Air Force safety people here put their heads together seeking ways to curb the accidents that always seem to increase with the warm weather.

“We try to get a lot of awareness out there during that time to try and decrease the number of mishaps,” said Tech. Sgt. John McDill, sergeant-in-charge of investigations at the 51st Fighter Wing’s safety office at Osan Air Base.

But with this summer’s “critical” period over, base officials have declared victory. They say this year’s program helped cut in half the number of reportable mishaps. “And,” said McDill, “we did have a slight decrease in nonreportable mishaps. … I would say this year’s worked out really well.”

A reportable incident is one that causes an airman to lose at least eight hours of duty time. It must be reported to the Air Force Safety Center. In a nonreportable incident, an airman is treated at a hospital for a minor injury such as a cut, bruise or sprain.

Osan had four reportable incidents this summer, down from last year’s seven, and 261 nonreportable incidents, four fewer than last summer.

This summer’s most common injury? “Probably sprained ankles,” McDill said.

And, as last summer, Osan got through the season with no fatalities.

To give the base community its summer safety reminder this year, the safety office set up a friendly rivalry among 51st Fighter Wing squadrons. They were invited to take part in several safety-promotion activities, with points awarded for their actions.

Activities included writing a safety article and getting it published in the base paper, the MiG Alley Flyer; designing safety posters; checking cars on base and noting how many motorists used seat belts; and giving safety talks.

“If they wrote an article for the paper and it got published, that was worth 35 points,” McDill said. “Seat belts were worth 10, posters were worth 10 and the public speaking was worth 16. We stopped tallying points on Labor Day weekend.”

The winner was the 731st Air Mobility Squadron, with about 1,200 points, he said. The unit got a trophy and a day off for its members. Second was the 51st Maintenance Squadron. Just 50-odd points separated the first- and second-place finishers, McDill said, “so it was a close competition there.”

Said 1st Lt. Tom Montgomery, a base spokesman, “Summer safety figures are tracked very closely by leadership in the Air Force, and to see this type of success is very heartening.

“The Air Force’s most valuable resource is its airmen, and since our airmen are so crucially important to the mission, keeping them ready to fight is one of our primary concerns.”


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