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171st Air Refueling Wing Receives Multiple Safety Awards

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jodi Snyder
  • 171st Air Refueling Wing

The 171st Air Refueling Wing was recognized by the Air National Guard for outstanding safety acts, achievements and sustained performance of individuals and teams to the occupational safety career field, Nov. 20, 2020.

The 171st ARW received 3 of 10 awards from the National Guard Bureau given to units and individuals annually across the country who exhibit superior performance within the safety community. Lt. Col. Ian Hurbanek, wing chief of safety, received the Safety Officer of the Year award. Staff Sgt. Patrick Olish received the Safety Noncommissioned Officer of the Year award. The 171st safety office received the Director of Safety Outstanding Achievement for Occupational Safety award.

“The 171st Air Refueling Wing Occupational Safety Office distinguished themselves as the top safety office out of 92 ANG Safety Offices for their unrelenting commitment to the promotion of Air Force Safety culture. From participating as key players in wing exercises such as active shooters, to ensuring work-center safety like their role in the development and testing of the KC-135 over-wing fall protection system, the 171 ARW Safety Office is the benchmark for excellence,” said Col. Mark Goodwill, commander of the 171st ARW.

Hurbanek, along with the wing safety office, identified and mitigated potential safety hazards and concerns by formalizing operating procedures. The safety office was also frequently embedded with the Civil Engineer Squadron as airmen and contractors completed $35 million in hangar renovation projects at the installation. There were no mishaps during construction or base exercises during 2020.

“We have also had several exercises including active shooter exercises and ability to survive and operate exercises during that time frame, ensuring more than 1,000 people were safe,” reported Hurbanek.

As COVID-19 cases increased and physical distancing increased shift work on base, the safety office adjusted, so they could provide support to all service members throughout the day and night. During this time, they continued annual and spot inspections while minimizing person-to-person contact.

“As work schedules adjusted, we had to adjust as well. It was important to us to be available to address any safety concerns as they arose,” said Hurbanek.

Their efforts did not stop there.

When a new KC-135 over-wing fall protection system was installed on all the aircraft, the safety office led the development of the safety guidance to keep aircraft mechanics safe.

“We worked with subject matter experts from maintenance to develop and refine the process,” said David Sparkman, an occupational safety manager.