Wake Up Call
By Col. Michael Panarisi, AEDC/PA
/ Published February 04, 2011
ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --
This week proved to be a "hot one" in the front office, as we learned late last Friday, that despite multiple safeguards, glycol found its way into our drinking water. This event boasts countless lessons, but I'd like to highlight a few that apply well beyond this discovery.
First and foremost, integrity. The technician that discovered the contamination in the industrial water supply had to make a choice ... report or not report. Maybe in this case it was a "no-brainer" but I must applaud his decision, and state for the record that it serves as a model for all of us. This is not the last time we will find something "not quite right" in our operation. We have a duty, and an obligation to make it right, no matter how bad the news might be. We all owe him a "thank you!"
Next, initiative. Sure, we found the agent in the industrial water supply. What about the drinking water? Those are supposed to be separate, right? Well, as it turns out, not exactly. Our chem lab wins the prize for this one. On their own initiative, they checked the drinking water. While the levels they found are very low, we aren't taking any chances. Armed with their discovery, we've been on the hunt trying to find the source. They "saved our bacon" big time. And what's really cool about their discovery? Nobody had to tell them to do that. They acted on their own concerns. That's initiative!
Finally, teamwork. We've been in full tilt getting the word out, preventing exposure, putting up signs, distributing water, and encouraging each other to lighten the load by tossing a few bottles into our lunchboxes, backpacks, and briefcases. Once we knew what we were dealing with, the team dove right in and put plans in motion, many worked over the weekend. Where plans didn't quite fit, they made new ones (like passing out notices at the gate ... who thought of that? AWESOME!) Everyone is pitching in to get this problem solved and minimize the impact to our ops. This is what makes this place magical.
As of today, we're still working through solutions, but I'm thrilled to report that despite Murphy's best efforts, we're still firing on all eight cylinders. Again, my thanks to everyone who has had a part in minimizing the effects of this event, and accelerating our return to "ops normal." I know we will solve this one, and come out the other side stronger, better prepared, and even better stewards of this national asset we call AEDC.