I Can Save My Own Life "Safety"

  • Published
  • By Airman First Class Courtney Witt
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
"I can save my own life" are words that 22-year-old Senior Airman Matthew Derheim considers a mantra. 

Senior Airman Derheim is one of 61 members of the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services Flight. Thirty nine, including Airman Derheim, received the U.S. Air Force Achievement Medal on Aug. 1 for their efforts while responding to the Air Force's first B-2 Class A mishap. 

"The firefighters put their emergency response tactics training into action by effectively fighting flames reaching over 300 feet tall fed by 20,000 gallons of jet fuel," said Senior Master Sgt. Richard Lien Deputy Fire Chief. "They braved temperatures reaching 1,500 degrees while leading the tactical assault on the remaining composite structure fires during an intense six-hour battle." 

Their efforts protected 59 emergency responders, two pilots and the base populace.
"We did all this just feet away from the aircraft without a single injury from the fire," said Airman Derheim. 

Airman Derheim gives credit to their continuous efforts of practicing safety procedures through training scenarios which enable mission success and properly wearing their personal protective equipment. 

"Being safe is important to me in the fire department career field," explained Airman Derheim. "If you are not safe, then you are putting your life and your brothers' life on the line. Not being safe around here can mean that you are not going to come home after an emergency. That would be a huge impact for my family and friends." 

"The people at the fire department are very close," he said. "We have a large group but we take care of each other like brothers." 

"Two in two out, that is a little motto that we use around the fire grounds," explained Airman Derheim. "If two firefighters go in then two firefighters come out. You never work alone. You always have a brother with you at all times." 

The "Wingman" concept has been drilled in us since the beginning of our career in the Air Force. So why should it stop now?