Occasional explosions may be heard in communities around Ramstein during
Next week, 435th Air Base Wing and the 86th Airlift Wing Airmen will
practice for the April Phase II Operational Readiness Inspection – the
first in nine years in U.S. Air Forces in Europe – and safety should be
at the top of their checklist.
The four-day exercise is a chance for Airmen to show their ability to deploy and survive combat operations.
“Many different things can jeopardize the success in exercises or real
world contingencies,” said Jerry McDermott, 435th Air Base Wing safety
chief. “Losing assets or people because of accidents lessens our
ability for combat readiness.”
Although exercises are practice, Airmen should not accept unnecessary
risk, Mr. McDermott said. During the October exercise — the first of
five — an Airman fell while dismounting a vehicle and a motorist drove
a vehicle into a ditch.
“If we follow the rules, no one should get hurt or no piece of equipment damaged,” Mr. McDermott said.
Each exercise will step up in intensity, said Maj. Jeff Menasco, 86th
AW chief of inspections and readiness. And safety is crucial in earning
top ratings in the final inspection, he said.
“If you have just two or three safety mishaps, you could be knocked down a level,” Major Menasco said.
Chief among safety hazards is dehydration. Airmen are working 13-hour
days, wearing chemical gear and masks and the weather is cold.
“By day three, you get headaches and it’s because you’re dehydrated,”
Major Menasco said. “It’s easier to get dehydrated in this weather.”
Before starting the exercise, Airmen should assess the risk, develop
control measures and take action to defend against the unplanned event
For the upcoming exercise, Tuesday to Nov. 18, here are things Airmen should consider:
–Assess the risk. Slips, trips or falls are the leading cause of
operational mishaps. Other risks are fire, electrocution and being
struck by a vehicle.
– Set controls. Know the working area. Upon arrival, tour the area and
remove hazards. Mark permanant hazards with refl-ective tape. If it is
wet or icy, slow down.
– When driving, watch speed. Don’t drive off-road and follow designated
roadways. Wear a seat belt and pay attention to surroundings. Use a
spotter when backing up. Wear a reflective belt. Have a well-lit work
– Only smoke in designated areas and properly dispose of butts and
matches. Keep combustible materials at least 36 inches from heaters.
Keep heat sources at least 75 feet from flammable storage areas. Make
sure fire extinguishers are located throughout the area.
– Ensure all electrical equipment is approved for wet areas. Remove
those that are not. Ensure all electrical receptacles and connections
are away from water. Let only qualified electricians address electrical
– Take action. Super-visors should set good examples, ensure their
troops have the right equipment and the right amount of people to get
the job done, and enforce safety rules.