NEWS | July 6, 2018

The 35th Fighter Wing Safety Office: Keeping the 'Wild Weasel' Off the Endangered Species List

By Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Welcome to Misawa where an abundance of new adventures awaits! Arriving in winter? Grab a snowboard and hit the slopes. Perhaps it’s summertime; hop on a jet ski and explore Lake Ogawara. But before heading out, there is an element of risk associated with most recreational activities. For the 35th Fighter Wing safety office at Misawa Air Base, Japan, equipping Team Misawa members with safety knowledge remains their top priority.

“The safety office provides training from the time you arrive here to when you depart,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Robert Ellender, the 35th Fighter Wing occupational safety NCO in charge. “We also conduct a weekly radio segment on American Forces Network Misawa every Friday. We like to highlight upcoming events and how to be safe when you are out and about participating in fun activities.”

The safety office offers a range of classes and training from how to evaluate and control workplace hazards to off-duty and traffic safety concerns. A variety of agencies contribute to raising awareness of how a safe environment can be created around base.

“We work alongside the fire department and bioenvironmental engineering teams to identify risks and enhance safety components,” explained Ellender. “Maintaining consistent communication with our counterparts in public health and civil engineering allows us to identify safety hazards, develop solutions and protect members of Team Misawa.”

This team effort not only contributes to the well-being of base members but prevents similar mistakes from occurring in the future.

“If occupational safety didn’t exist, then Misawa could run like the Wild West,” said Staff Sgt. Dorian Lewis, a 35th Fighter Wing occupational safety technician. “Not only could more Airmen be injured, but mishaps could run rampant across the base. When a mishap occurs, it’s my job to analyze the situation and provide a final evaluation of how this accident could have been prevented.”

“We must work together to keep the ‘Wild Weasel’ off the endangered species list,” laughed Ellender. “Keeping yourself and each other accountable of what’s safe versus risky is everyone’s responsibility.”

While members of the safety office agree Airmen should be open to exploring Japan, they also believe it can be done thoughtfully and with care.

While occupational safety observes Airmen’s actions and how to create favorable outcomes, weapons safety enforces proper munitions handling. Together with flight and occupational safety, the three elements keep Misawa safe.