86th Airlift Wing surveyed for safety

Tech. Sgt. Jay Mitchell
86th Airlift Wing Flight Safety

At the request of the 86th Airlift Wing, a team of nine safety professionals from the Air Force Safety Center arrived at Ramstein Sept. 17 to conduct an Organizational Safety Assessment, which is a proactive mishap prevention program that aids commanders in risk assessment and decision making.
The team’s arrival signaled the start of the second half of an assessment that had begun when members from every organization in the 86th AW had participated in written surveys. These pre-visit surveys were done so the AFSC team could develop a baseline from which to conduct the assessment.

“The 86th Airlift Wing is a uniquely complex and effective wing, and my sense is that 90 percent of the results the team gives us, we’ll already know about,” said Col. Rich Johnston, KMC and 86th Airlift Wing commander. “It’s the other 10 percent that could potentially help us save lives, equipment and prevent future mishaps.”

The OSA pre-visit surveys focus on operations, maintenance and other areas directly related to flight safety. Ultimately, they assess and quantify personnel stress levels and safety perceptions. Lt. Col. Tracy Dillinger, AFSC Chief of Aviation Psychology, used this data to formulate conclusions about safety culture within the 86th Airlift Wing. These conclusions were then compared to Air Force averages and briefed to wing leadership prior to the second half of the assessment.
The assessment team conducted interviews within the 86th Airlift Wing, which consisted of one-on-one meetings between team members and senior leadership, and unit interviews with members from every squadron. The group-type sessions allowed anonymity, facilitated open discussion and permitted even the most junior Airmen to speak truthfully without fear of reprisal.

The information gained from these interviews was combined with the pre-visit survey data and used to draft conclusions for wing leadership.
“Our wing has a diverse and demanding mission,” said Col. Glen Apgar, 86th AW vice commander. “This assessment is a unique opportunity to get an unbiased look at ourselves. It may identify a problem that if we focus our attention on, would enhance the safety of our people and our operations.”
The conclusions drawn by the assessment team ultimately will be used by wing leadership to focus on problem areas and develop longterm plans to strengthen and improve the safety culture within the wing. 

“Sometimes it can be difficult to see the problems from inside the wing. That’s why it’s great to have an outside agency take an objective look as to where we need to focus our prevention efforts,” said Capt. Stan Tallman, 86th Airlift Wing flight safety officer.  
The 86th AW OSA concluded Thursday with a detailed outbrief for commanders within the wing.