Firefighters and Cable Dogs Save Lives

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shannon Bowman
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Last summer, the Air Force suffered the loss of a civil engineer squadron Airman who was operating around an entry to a confined space in a deployed location. U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. John J. Allen the director of civil engineers, ordered that all civil engineer squadrons conduct a safety stand-down day to deter these types of incidents.

The 6th CES observed Allen’s order, by hosting a Safety Stand-Down Day May 28, 2019, at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

The exercise was mandated to provide training in local confined space entry protocol, addressing the incident and any general safety issues within the squadron.

Representatives from the 6th CES, 6th Communications Squadron, 6th Maintenance Squadron, Wing Safety, Bioenvironmental Engineers and additional contractors were present at the trainings.

Tech. Sgt. Matthew Woods with the 6th CES developed the schedule of events.

“The first thing I did was reach out to the installation’s Confined Space Program Team and my leadership,” said Woods.  “As we came together with the various stakeholders of the program we discussed the importance of General Allen’s message not being just for CES but for all AF personnel.”

All agencies conducted simulated confined space rescues, with Woods concluding that all safety criteria was met.

“The fire and emergency personnel who responded did a very thorough and precise response to the emergency scenario,” said Woods.  “The willingness of the CSPT members facilitated an amazing and successful stand-down, identifying the need to revamp the program.”

Staff Sgt. Christopher Bailey, a cable and antenna maintenance supervisor with the 6th CS, led his team, who face hazardous confined spaces in order to perform their duties. Bailey’s team trains annually to ensure they can perform their job in confined spaces effectively and efficiently. 

This is the first time in three years that all units trained as a whole and according to Bailey, the goal is to incorporate more regular trainings.

“Collaborative training is important to ensure that each stakeholder of the CSPT understands the roles, procedures, and capabilities of each organization,” said Woods.

“Going to the CSPT meetings and learning how we all train the way we do proves to us that we do need to work together and as a team,” added Bailey. “We have come up with some practices that our units can utilize and take with them into the field. We are always talking to one another so we can all stay on the same page and prevent any loss of life.” 

Improving safety standards, training and the wellbeing of Airmen, has and will continue to be a top priority in the Air Force mission.