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Safety key for Selfridge Open House success

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samara Taylor
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Safety preparations for thousands of visitors anticipated next month are continuous here this summer.

In Selfridge's planning of this year's Open House and Air Show, to be held Sept. 6-7, numerous safety measures and emergency management preparations are being reviewed, practiced, and upgraded, if needed.

The Air Force's recent acquisition of the P-34 Rapid Intervention Vehicle, a firefighting vehicle that uses new ultra high pressure firefighting technology, is one of the great assets Selfridge will use for emergency response. The RIV will be used as an aircraft crash response vehicle for the base. The mobility of the truck is one of its great features.

"It is more agile to get into smaller remote places easier," Chris Ross, chief of the Selfridge Fire Department said. "It is smaller and uses less water than the traditional RIV."

The ultra-high pressure turret attached to the front bumper of the RIV discharges 100 gallons of firefighting agent per minute at 1,350 pounds per square inch at a range of 100 feet, and performs 3.5 times more effectively than conventional firerfighting vehicles. Fire fighters will receive proficiency training of 30 hours to operate the vehicle. The proficiency training will include book study, hands on and the operation of the vehicle systems.

The Base Safety Office is also involved with Open House planning. Major Tate Whitener, chief of 127th Wing Safety, said, "During the planning for this year's event, we have specifically implemented the 5-step Risk Management (RM) process early and often." The five step process, identifying hazards, assess hazards, develop controls and making decisions, implementing controls, and supervising and evaluating, has been key to framing the type of aerial acts Open House patrons will see this year.

"(The) Safety (Office) has assessed and approved all the Open House acts to ensure the base is not accepting any unnecessary risk while providing the public a great open house experience," said Whitener.

The 127th Wing along with multiple civilian law enforcement and first responder organizations has also exercised its emergency response capabilities for a variety of incidents that could occur - from tornados to airplane crashes and terrorist activities. Most recently, a Major Accident Response Exercise was held to determine the proper procedures to handle an airplane crash with multiple injuries on the ground. The MARE showed how an incident can get complex quickly and forced responders to prioritize response and recovery efforts.

Lt. Col. Ross Dickinson ,127th chief of plans, organized the multiple agency exercise, which included the establishment of an emergency family assistance care center for families and friends of the victims of the crash. The EFACC would be established to aid families in the aftermath of a disaster.

Dickinson said Selfridge holds annual MARE scenarios annually to test and enhance the readiness capabilities of the unit.

The use of social media has exploded since the 2011 Open House and will be used to get information to the public in the event of a disaster or crises. There are several ways to follow along with the 2014 Open House and Air Show.

The Open House is active on both Facebook and Twitter. You can follow both at and @SANGBOpenHouse

The 127th Wing at Selfridge is also active in social media. The Wing's popular YouTube page is The Wing can be found at and on Twitter @127Wing. The Michigan National Guard is also active at

Patrons to this year's show can also remain alert and help to create their own safe visit to the base which anticipates upwards of 100,000 visitors to see the show headlined by the US Navy Blue Angels.

Some tips for staying safe at Open House & Air Show:
  • Be prepared to walk, a lot. The average visitor could walk 2-5 miles just to experience everything in the show.
  • Drink plenty of fluids during the day. The sun and wind can dehydrate spectators quickly.
  • Wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day to avoid overexposure to the sun. Wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Watch your step, particularly around tents or displays that may have staked ropes tying them down or while walking through grass parking lots that may be uneven or have holes.
  • Be careful and pay attention while walking around or through static aircraft displays. Some aircraft may have little headroom inside and some aircraft wingtips can be right at head level.
  • Do not smoke on the ramp or spectator area.
  • Pack your patience. Waiting in line to enter the show and to enter and exit the base takes some time. Be prepared for delays.
  • Report suspiscious activity to uniformed personnel.
Information on the Open House is available on the web at

Military Open Houses and Air Shows have been held at Selfridge Air National Guard Base since 1922. Open Houses at the base are generally held about every-other year, as the Michigan Air National Guard's mission cycles allow. An Open House was last held at Selfridge in 2011. The next Open House is tentatively planned for 2017, which will mark the 100th anniversary of the creation of Selfridge as a military installation and the 70th anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Air Force as an independent military service branch.

As many as 75,000 people per day are expected to attend the Open House on the base. Thousands of additional spectators typically observe the Air Show portion of the Open House from backyard parties in the surrounding community and from boats on Lake St. Clair.