WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — More than a year after it was introduced, Air Force Materiel Command’s Wingman Intervention program is still going strong.
“During the spring 2013 Wingman Day, AFMC made a concerted effort to provide its Airmen with the skills and confidence they need to safely intervene when they see fellow Airmen entering into potentially harmful situations, both on and off duty,” said Jennifer Treat, AFMC Community Support Coordinator.
To build on that theme, AFMC launched an initiative in the fall of 2013 to capture, acknowledge and highlight real-life instances where Airmen took action to keep themselves and their wingmen safe. The goal of the Wingman Intervention program is to turn those situations — where personnel recognized at-risk behavior and proactively intervened — into teachable moments and to encourage similar behavior in others. So far, more than 30 interventions have been highlighted.
“A good wingman stays alert for signs of danger from whatever source — whether suicide, safety mishaps, alcohol abuse, sexual assault, bullying, medical issues or other difficulties — and gets involved by knowing their fellow Airmen and assisting when necessary,” Treat continued. “We’re proud to have so many true wingmen in our command who look out for the welfare of their colleagues and community.”
As a recent example of successful wingman intervention, an Airman was volunteering at an off-duty event when he noticed a teenager collapsed, unconscious, and with a blocked airway. The Airman directed a bystander to contact emergency services while he cleared the teenager’s airway. The teenager regained consciousness and began breathing, and the wingman monitored his vitals and kept him engaged until an ambulance arrived.
At the emergency room, it was discovered that the teenager, a diabetic, had not taken his insulin and was just above a diabetic coma state. The quick thinking of the wingman kept a bad situation from becoming potentially fatal.
In another situation, a supervisor received an email from an employee stating she wouldn’t be at work. The supervisor was disturbed by the tone of the message and worried that something was wrong. The supervisor and the commander attempted to reach both the employee and her family members by phone, and when the attempts failed, they contacted the Employee Assistance Program.
EAP recommended a welfare visit by the county sheriff’s department. When the sheriff’s department arrived, the employee agreed to check herself into the hospital for help. By staying engaged and being concerned, the supervisor and commander ensured their employee got the help she needed.
In yet another example, a wingman noticed a neighbor’s outdoor trash bin on fire. He called the fire department, used buckets of water to extinguish the flames and moved the bin away from the house. The wingman continued to soak the bin — filled with embers — with water until the fire department arrived and took over the scene. Thanks to the vigilance of the wingman, no damage was done to the house or yard.
Finally, when an Airman was in shock after the death of her boyfriend in an automobile accident, her supervisor had a co-worker stay with the Airman so she wasn’t alone. The compassion of the wingmen in this situation ensured the Airman had a comfortable presence and assistance during a difficult time.
If you become aware of situations in which personnel have recognized at-risk behaviors and proactively intervened, contact the Hill AFB Community Support Coordinator at 801-775-5279.