SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
If thinking about a doctor’s visit (or planning a safety briefing) causes you anxiety, meet Dr. Love. His real name is Leonard “Al” Jones, and he is the Air Force Safety Center's Risk Management Program Manager at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. However, under the guise of Dr. Love—a character developed earlier in his career—he creates interesting, entertaining videos that prove to be a great tool for safety professionals.
“Years ago, on active duty, I had to send out instructions,” he explained. “Rather than burden people with emails, I created Dr. Love’s Advice for the Lovelorn. I made up letters, answered them, and sent them out. For example:
Dear Dr. Love: I am a pilot that nobody likes and I cannot make friends.
I would write back Dear Lonely Pilot: To make a friend, you must be a friend. Much like the Defense Travel System, to get your voucher paid, you have to … then I would put the instructions on it.”
In his current position, Al applies a unique twist to risk management. Instead of seeing it as strictly a ho-hum decision-making process, he says, “This is what I want to accomplish. Now, what hazards might stand in the way or prevent me from doing it? How do I eliminate or minimize them to a point where I can proceed?”
More simply, it is weighing potential gain versus potential risk.
“In safety, before we start a project, we ask, what could go wrong? If it is a new airplane, what could fail? How long can we fly? What size crew do we need? We start eliminating potential problems and get it down to the lowest level of risk possible. We want our people to do that when they are at work, with the family, or about to climb a mountain or go rafting—we want them to make good decisions.”
Building on that, he created “Risk Management in 45 Seconds or Less,” a video series starring the one and only Dr. Love.
“I maintained an instructor navigator rating throughout my 25-year career,” he said. “We throw so much training at people, and it drove me to produce short little messages about risk management. We need the training, but making it a little funny is like a teaspoon of sugar—it helps the medicine go down. The videos were originally for unit safety reps, but then the American Forces Network picked them up.”
The productions have no budget and must be acceptable to play on the AFN. Thus, Dr. Love videos can have no sex or violence. Admittedly, some of his videos are a bit corny, but he’s okay with that. If people talk about a corny ending to a message about seatbelts, at least they walk away with the intended message about the safety of seatbelts.
While he does not target specific groups of Airmen, he does consider seasonal topics or those that are statistically pertinent.
“If we are seeing more off-duty motorcycle accidents or machine guarding accidents, we may focus on those,” Al said. “We might hone in on a specific age group if it makes sense, but we try to do videos that appeal to all ages.”
Feedback from viewers is positive, according to Dr. Love.
“I think people like quick videos because they don’t have to be tied down for a 10-minute lecture.”
The humor also makes a lasting impression. In fact, he told of a recent visit to Germany where people stopped him on base to take selfies. During one encounter, a toddler actually quoted a line from one of his videos!
“The point is, the safety message gets out there,” he said. “The messages aren’t new, but we have new people joining the military constantly. Many times, it’s the same message but in another form.”
Keith Wright, from Public Affairs at the AFSEC, said the videos reach thousands of Airmen. The AFN broadcasts them around the world, and they are available on YouTube, Facebook, the AFSEC website, and the Occupational Safety SharePoint site—whatever platform gets the message out.
“A couple years ago,” Wright said, “when the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff picked them up, views skyrocketed. I think humor relaxes people. It lets them breath a little and leaves them feeling good.”
Dr. Love confessed that because they produce the videos quickly, amusing outtakes occur frequently. One of his most memorable clips happened when he took a fashion risk by wearing white shoes and a white belt.
“I liked that one because the production value is so good. On a personal note, they brought a B-17 down to Albuquerque and graciously allowed us to be all over the plane filming one morning. Through research, I discovered that particular bomber was in my hometown when I was 6 or 7 years old and used as a crop duster. As a little boy, I had been to the airport and seen it, so it was neat to be on the fully restored bomber years later.”
Is there a Dr. Love protégé on the horizon? Well, the 21st Space Wing at Peterson AFB won the recent video challenge with its entry, Know Your Emergency Tones. Al said it was clever with a good message and special effects, but it was tough to choose a winner because there were too many good entries to choose from. Will there be another challenge?
“Who knows?” he teased. “Another may be coming up in the future!”
To see Dr. Love’s “Risk Management in 45 Seconds or Less” videos, tune in to the AFN or go to