'Bystanders' key during Critical Days of Summer

  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. Norman Seip
  • Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander
Across the Air Force, commanders will soon begin to warn their staff about the dangers associated with summer activities as part of the Critical Days of Summer safety campaign. This period of barbeques and water skiing, fireworks and family vacations is the time of the year our Airmen are most susceptible to becoming wounded or fatally injured while taking well-deserved time off.

That's the reason for this campaign -- to make our team aware of the dangers posed by their summertime actions. For many, summer marks an opportunity to dust off their motorcycle helmet and go for a ride or take their boat out after a favorite lake opens for the season. By focusing beforehand on the potential risks, you can take prudent safety precautions to ensure your summer is family fun instead of a family disaster.

But one aspect of our safety plans is often overlooked: the role of the bystanders, or observers, during the Critical Days of Summer. These onlookers act as a conscience, a backstop and a final line of defense for potentially dangerous or criminal behavior. While safety-related incidents tend to rise during the summer months, incidents of sexual assault also spike as Airmen partake in parties, three-day weekends and increased alcohol consumption. It's critical to understand how a good Wingman doesn't just "look out" for their friends -- they act to protect them!

Even if you're not the driver, have you checked your Wingman to ensure they've followed their designated driver plan? After you buckled your seat belt, did you check others to see that they did the same? When you're at a party, are all of the participants practicing good judgment -- especially with regard to potential sexual assault situations?

Intervention isn't rank or age specific. When the safety of your fellow Airmen is at stake, you're always authorized to call 'knock it off' or a halt to the moment's activities. If you see a potentially unsafe or criminal activity, don't 'observe and report'-- I want you to step in to avert a crisis before it begins.

During the Critical Days of Summer safety campaign, and all year round, you have the power to protect your Wingmen. Think of bystanders as your friends, a 'spider sense', your last line of defense, a second chance, whatever metaphor works for you to understand the importance every Airman has in team safety. Together, we can ensure the summer months are safe, secure and full of lasting memories.

Editor's note:
Check out the Air Force Safety Center Web site for more tips and safety guidelines related to the CDOS at: www.afsc.af.mil Also, visit: http://www.sapr.mil for sexual assault victim assistance, schedules of events and activities throughout the year, as well as, training tools and materials for supervisors to educate their team and empower bystanders.