Saturday, May 14, 2011

Safety office keeps maintainers cool

by Tech. Sgt. Emily F. Alley
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

5/14/2011 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- As it gets hotter in Afghanistan, it's more important to make sure people working outdoors are hydrated. The 451st AEW safety office handed out water to crew chiefs here May 13.

Since mid-March, the safety office has brought coolers to the flight line to make sure that maintainers are drinking water and keeping cool.

They try to make trips in the morning and after lunch, but also keep the coolers packed in case they are called out to investigate a mishap or bird strike, added Maj. Leo Nevell, flight safety chief.

Bringing water is a chance to get to know the aircraft maintainers and help them see the safety office cares about them and not just paperwork, said Master Sgt. Kelvin Samuel, weapons safety superintendent from the 451st AEW. When Airmen see the safety truck, they are glad to know the office is there to help.

"It brings people out, instead of hiding from us," said the major.

The flight line visit began at the A-10 Warthogs, which were further from tents and shade than other 451st AEW aircraft, Sergeant Samuel explained.

Crew chiefs, inspectors and other maintenance Airmen stood under the shade of the A-10s wings, the only shadowy area on the expanse of concrete. Samuel handed a cold water bottle, condensation beading over it, to an airman.

"There's no air conditioning," crew chief Airman 1st Class Matthew Bryant described his work area.

Hot water, sitting in the sun for an afternoon, isn't as refreshing, said Airman 1st Class Justin Painter, an A-10 inspector. He looks forward to seeing the safety truck, since he'll get cold water.

Samuel was inspired to suggest the program because he understands the maintainers' environment. He used to be a production supervisor for munitions maintenance.

After the program was suggested, Lt. Col. Richard Mills, 451st AEW chief of safety, found an ice machine. The members of the safety office said it is the only potable ice making machine on the airfield, as far as they know.

Each day, they prepare water bottles and pack them in ice to be ready to carry to the flight line because, for the rest of their deployment, the days will only get hotter.

Airman 1st Class Matthew Bryant drinks water from the 451st AEW safety office at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan on May 13. The flightline of the airfield has been getting hotter as summer progresses. Airman Bryant is a crew chief on the A-10 Warthog. (Photo by Senior Airman Willard Grande II) Hi-res


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