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Riders practice ATV safety, prepare for Alaska missions
Air Force Master Sgt. Chris Huethmann, 3rd Maintenance Squadron, takes the ATV Instructor certification course, offered by the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Safety Office at Hillberg Ski Area, Sept. 22. ATVs are often used in Alaska to complete missions off paved roads. (U.S. Air Force photo/Steven White)
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Riders practice ATV safety, prepare for Alaska missions

Posted 10/14/2011   Updated 10/14/2011 Email story   Print story


by Luke Waack
JBER Public Affairs

10/14/2011 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The state of Alaska has more than 586,000 square miles of land within its borders and only a handful of paved highways, making air and off-road transportation vital for military members operating in day-to-day missions.

Airmen at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson completed ATV training Sept. 22 which equipped them to not only ride all-terrain vehicles here themselves, but also gives them the certification to train other members of their unit.

"In Alaska, you have so many people riding ATVs and so many people that require ATVs for their official duties that the more people we can get trained, the safer people should be when they go out and actually use them," said Todd Moore, JBER Ground Safety Office, safety and occupational health specialist.

Four days of training culminated with student-instructors teaching brand new ATV riders the basics.

Would-be instructors were required to pass written, riding and teaching tests given by the ATV Safety Institute, an independent contractor.

The training was offered through the JBER Safety Office motorcycle safety program to Airmen from various units, to include seven Airmen from 11th Air Force, 673d Logistics Readiness Squadron, 673d Security Forces Squadron, and the 381st Intelligence Squadron.

In the event of an airplane mishap, security forces would have to provide site security and ATVs would give them increased mobility.

"We'd secure the whole scene, the perimeter and then we would use those machines to bring investigators and so forth to the crash site," said Wayne Brewer, security forces operations officer.

Most ATVs can carry 100 pounds on the front rack and 200 pounds on the back rack and tow up to 1,500 pounds on a trailer or sled.

"Its important to know how to safely ride, especially in Alaska where the terrain is diverse and riding conditions can be unpredictable," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Valerie Queitzsch, 673d SFS, Visitor Control Center, noncommissioned officer-officer-in-charge and instructor-in-training.

Proper safety training for ATV riders is more important than ever, class members explained, because the vehicles have evolved over the years.

"More power, more speed - it used to be, back in the day, that the 250 cc or 400 cc ATV was the big machine," Brewer said. "Now they're coming out with 1,000 cc ATVs."
"You can get on these things and go 60, 70 miles per hour," Brewer continued. "It's imperative that people are out there taking the safety classes."

All of the instructors in training had already taken basic ATV operation courses.
"When you're certifying as an instructor, you have to make sure you know all the aspects of ATV riding safety," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Valerie Ellis, 673d SFS, instructor-in-training.

Ellis and her classmates will train new unit members as they arrive in their respective units to keep ATV skills sharp and ready to support Air Force missions.

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