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480th ISRW SNCO wins ACC safety award

Col. Max Pearson, 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Robert Walker, 480th ISRW command chief (right), present Senior Master Sgt. Jakob Kurtz, 480th ISRW safety superintendent, the Air Combat Command Safety Career Professional of the Year award at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 17, 2019. By understanding different aspects of every Air Force career field within the wing, Kurtz was able to identify job hazards and make the proper corrections. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

Col. Max Pearson, 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Robert Walker, 480th ISRW command chief (right), present Senior Master Sgt. Jakob Kurtz, 480th ISRW safety superintendent, the Air Combat Command Safety Career Professional of the Year award at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 17, 2019. By understanding different aspects of every Air Force career field within the wing, Kurtz was able to identify job hazards and make the proper corrections. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- Senior Master Sgt. Jakob Kurtz, 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing safety superintendent, was selected as the Air Combat Command Safety Career Professional of the Year.
 
During this time period, Kurtz was selected as the Air Force representative for Joint Professional Development where he trained 2,500 members with the goal of reducing mishaps. He led a nine-member team in designing Air Force-wide guards for amputation prevention which averted $26 million in disabilities. Additionally, he built a safety culture through his Wing Recognition Program which recognized nineteen Airmen for preventing fatalities and saved $165 million in injury costs.
 
“We make sure our resources are protected, for this we need to know and interpret thousands of pages of federal regulations and over a thousand pages of Air Force safety regulations,” said Kurtz. “We must also analyze mishap reports and disseminate lessons learned from those reports so supervisors and senior leaders can get ahead of the next mishap.” 
 
By understanding different aspects of every Air Force career field within the wing, Kurtz is able to identify job hazards and make the proper corrections. 
 
“When people think about this wing they tend to think about all of the intelligence functions within it, however, we are a wing of 31 different Air Force specialties, all of which are vital to the overall success of the wing. Kurtz’s success, as safety officer, tells that story as well as any,” said Col. Brian D. Sidari, 480th ISRW vice commander. “Kurtz is a prime example of this. He and his team’s fantastic work enables us to protect our most valuable resource of all … our people.”
 
Even though this is an individual award, Kurtz recognizes all the people who have helped him get to where he is now.
 
“It is humbling,” said Kurtz. “There are a lot of outstanding safety professionals in the Air Force, so to be recognized is something special to me.”
 
“Leadership has supported me every step of the way and allowed me to think freely outside the box,” added Kurtz. “One of the most important things my chief of safety said to me was, ‘Don’t worry about being constrained by the Air Force Instructions, focus on doing what is necessary to prevent mishaps. We can change AFIs later if we need to.’ This is the difference between doing things right and doing the right things.  Additionally, leadership has allowed me to pursue education and credentials, which has helped me contribute more than I would have otherwise.”