RAF Mildenhall saving lives one oxygen mask at a time

A U.S. Airman from the 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop tacks an oxygen mask to secure the threading of a mask lining at RAF Mildenhall, England, April 24, 2018. The AFE shop is the insurance of the aircrew and keeps emergency kits prepared in case of an in-flight emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

A U.S. Airman from the 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop tacks an oxygen mask to secure the threading of a mask lining at RAF Mildenhall, England, April 24, 2018. The AFE shop is the insurance of the aircrew and keeps emergency kits prepared in case of an in-flight emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

U.S. Airmen from the 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop pose for a photo at RAF Mildenhall, England, April 24, 2018. The shop keeps all the equipment up-to-date on certifications and makes sure everything is properly tested and stored. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

U.S. Airmen from the 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop pose for a photo at RAF Mildenhall, England, April 24, 2018. The shop keeps all the equipment up-to-date on certifications and makes sure everything is properly tested and stored. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

A U.S. Airman from the 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop inspects the emergency kit box for the KC-135 Stratotanker making sure all certifications are up to date at RAF Mildenhall, England, April 24, 2018. The AFE shop has a variety of equipment to keep track of, from rubber rafts to life preservers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

A U.S. Airman from the 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop inspects the emergency kit box for the KC-135 Stratotanker making sure all certifications are up to date at RAF Mildenhall, England, April 24, 2018. The AFE shop has a variety of equipment to keep track of, from rubber rafts to life preservers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

The 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop displays oxygen and chemical gear at RAF Mildenhall, England, April 24, 2018. Emergency kits are packed on every plane for crew and passengers. The kits hold a variety of equipment, including 80 four-ounce packets of water, a compass, lights and a radio kit. The aircrew flight equipment technicians ensure all RAF Mildenhall’s aircrew are ready and prepared for any mission, at any time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

The 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop displays oxygen and chemical gear at RAF Mildenhall, England, April 24, 2018. Emergency kits are packed on every plane for crew and passengers. The kits hold a variety of equipment, including 80 four-ounce packets of water, a compass, lights and a radio kit. The aircrew flight equipment technicians ensure all RAF Mildenhall’s aircrew are ready and prepared for any mission, at any time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

A U.S. Airman from the 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop inspects a radio to ensure it’s ready to use at RAF Mildenhall, England, April 24, 2018. The technicians routinely check the quality of all the equipment they are responsible for. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

A U.S. Airman from the 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop inspects a radio to ensure it’s ready to use at RAF Mildenhall, England, April 24, 2018. The technicians routinely check the quality of all the equipment they are responsible for. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- When an in-flight emergency happens, the last thing anyone wants to question is the condition of an oxygen mask, which could be the barrier between life and death. The 100th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop makes it their goal for that question never to be asked.

The AFE shop is the insurance of the aircrew and keeps everything prepared just in case of an emergency.

“We know everything about everything that could possibly be used in an in-flight emergency,” said Senior Airman Valerie Salgado, 100th OSS AFE technician. “In tech school, when we were learning how to check the equipment, the instructor asked if we would let our mother’s life depend on that equipment. If the answer was ‘no,’ we repacked it. That’s how we think about every item we inspect or pack.”

The AFE shop has a variety of equipment to keep track of, from rubber rafts to life preservers, and down to the band-aids in the survival kit. The shop keeps all the equipment up-to-date on certifications and makes sure it is properly tested and stored.

“We have to perform at 100 percent at all times; if we don’t, someone could lose a life,” said Senior Airman Jesse Inman, 100th OSS AFE technician.
Every plane is packed with emergency kits for crew and passengers. The kits hold a variety of equipment, including 80 four ounce packets of water, a compass, lights and a radio kit. The type of mission the crew is flying determines what and how much is packed by the aircrew. The AFE technicians ensure all RAF Mildenhall’s aircrew are ready and prepared for any mission, at any time.

“Our job gives us a lot of great opportunities,” Inman said. “We can get skydive-certified, and there is no greater incentive to pack a parachute right than knowing you’re jumping with it,”

With so many details that could potentially have a huge impact on the lives of those using the equipment, there is a lot of pressure associated with managing the flight equipment.

“At every base we get recertified for all the equipment that will accompany the aircraft that base hosts,” Salgado said. “For example, a fighter jet will require higher altitude oxygen masks and an emergency kit for one aircrew, while a bomber will have an emergency kit for aircrew, passengers and a standard oxygen mask. We are constantly training and getting ourselves certified for our job and additional duties, which is keeping up-to-date with equipment in other shops. We are constantly learning, and have a huge responsibility in the shadows.”