HT-18 Gains Safety Center Recognition

Published on June 14, 2013 with No Comments

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and the Commander Naval Safety Center presented the CNO Aviation Safety Award and ‘Grampaw Pettibone’ Media Award to Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHTEEN in recognition of their outstanding, multi-faceted safety program.  Safety awards are given to recognize operational excellence, exemplary safety contributions and efforts to further the Naval Aviation Safety Program.

HT-18 stood out from their CNATRA counter-parts as reviewed through the a wide variety of safety oriented categories:  Safety Philosophy, Command Safety Assessment, Fatigue Awareness Study, Operational Risk Management Program, Human, Aviation Safety Awareness Program (ASAP), Pre-Mishap Drills, Liberty Safety, Safety/NATOPS programs, and many others.

“We are proud that we have a truly pervasive safety culture through our commanding officer’s routine precedence…All students and Instructor Pilots (IPs) are resonating.  Unlike combat, we always feel we have the flexibility to stop and proceed in the safest manner.”  Major Daniel Rubel, HT-18 Safety Officer said.

Rubel emphasized that the many considerations accounted for before any flight or evolution ensure each of the sons, daughters, wives, and ‘hubbies’ in his care are well taken care of.

“There are a number of ways we stair-step our evolutions to get everyone on the same page, we do not leave the briefing spaces until we are all clear on all operations” he explained.

Observing weather minimums, performing proper maintenance checks, utilizing effective communication, safety, and training each serve as ‘stair-steps’ that lead up to, and through, every exercise of this exemplary training squadron.  Rubel’s enthusiasm for the program was apparent as he beamed with pride when he said:

“We’re very proud of the work Lt. Cmdr Ally Shuler, former safety officer, and her team did, and hope to make it [CNO Safety Award] again this year.”

Lt. Jonathon Kane, assistant safety officer, identified a few incentives HT-18 offers individuals that perpetuate its culture of safety which include superman inspired patches and superstar-style parking.

“We are always on the lookout for conspicuous acts of gallantry” Rubel affirmed.

The safety office regularly hands outs award patches to such conspicuous “Safety Pros”.  Moreover, the Safety Pro Award rewards individuals with a week of parking in the CO’s parking spot if they are associated with a qualifying safe act.

“A former student, Ensign Chelsea Rheaume, caught a bolt improperly installed and when she reported it, maintenance later found six others [helicopters] with similar conditions” Kane said of one safety pro award recipient.

All individuals have access to an anonymous online survey to report such instances.  The ASAP is utilized by students and instructor pilots after each flight to report unsafe practices.

“There was one [ASAP] report about non-compatible NVG (night vision goggle) lighting…We brought it up to the TRAWING-5 Safety Counsel and they were able to find a solution with in the day” Kane reported.

It is a requirement that all members of the flight crew fill out ASAPs so the commanding officer can ensure his standards are being upheld at all times.  This forum also re-enforces the importance of crew resource management by allowing all ranks to provide feed back.

“Students and instructors do a great job with ASAPs…The fact that we have to [participate] is mandated, but the thoroughness of what our ‘Eagles’ are reporting makes it so special” Rubel clarified.

ASAPs act as ‘after action reports’ and are hung on the media board for public review and procedure improvement where applicable.  HT-18’s creative presentation of new ideas, to include the use of humor and multi-media displays, is what earned them this year’s Grampaw Pettibone Media Award.

“In addition to an outstanding safety record, commands and ships selected must have aggressive aviation safety programs that contribute new ideas in mishap prevention for the general benefit of Naval Aviation.” RADM G.E. Mayer, Special Assistant for Safety Matters, stated in the instruction detailing the award standards.

The safety team keeps their squadron’s current in training with periodic ‘safety stand-downs’, an all-hands briefing of updates to all aspects of safety, not just aviation.  In the interim, Kane provides his squadron with an interactive ‘safety wall’ that consists of a flat screen TV projecting a power point display, large bulletin board, and two ‘any mouse’ (anonymous comment boxes) located about the squadron.

“We’re standing on the shoulders of safety giants!” he said in reference to the former safety team of Shuler, Capt Ryan White, former aviation safety officer, and Lt. Bruce Plummer, former ground safety officer, whose steadfast dedication to HT-18 made their award possible.

Kane has spent the last month improving on White’s award winning wall of safety.

“Humor catches people’s attention. That’s why we wear Hawaiian shirts to safety stand-downs!” Kane offered light-heartedly.  “This board mentions the ‘safety pros’, and uses scrolling stories, pictures, and humor to keep you involved.”

As squadron members walk the halls between the briefing spaces, ready rooms, and administrative offices, they can readily view the latest ASAP reportings, updated instructions, or simply enjoy a safety-related comic.   The variation of concepts and information the safety officers capitalize on makes this eye-catching media a truly award worthy representation of HT-18’s clear safety precedence.

Evidence of their contribution to the Navy and Marine Corp’s economy of operations through safety can be found in the May-June 2013 edition of ‘Approach’ Magazine.

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