Pesky gopher

  • Published
  • By Col. "Tip" Stinnette
  • 39th Air Base Wing Commander
This one comes from the Sacramento Bee ... three employees of the Carroll Fowler Elementary School decided to take on a pesky gopher that was having its way with the grounds. The one janitor and two maintenance men managed to corner the pesky gopher and hauled it into a small janitorial closet. Their plan was to do away with the gopher by spraying it with cleaning solvent.

The solvent they used was designed to remove gum by freezing it and making it easier to scrape up. Three cans later the gopher was still alive and kicking. The three men paused for a moment to consider their follow-on options. While reflecting on potential courses of action, the janitor lit a cigarette in the fume-filled room. The subsequent explosion injured all three men. In the aftermath of the explosion, the pesky gopher was discovered unharmed, clinging to the wall and was released back into the wild.

The Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) was initiated by Gen. Curtis Lemay in 1962. It was implemented after several incidents raised questions and doubts about the judgment of personnel serving in critical positions ... clearly our three gopher terminators would be prime candidates for elimination under PRP.

The Personal Reliability Program is designed to select and screen people of the highest caliber, judgment, and reliability for critical positions while providing a system of continuous monitoring and evaluation both on and off-duty. In order to make this program work it takes a whole team from the individual to the supervisor, program manager, commanding officer, support agencies and medical authorities.

The most critical component, however, is the individual and their own continuous assessment of their ability to serve in a PRP position.

In the case of our pesky gopher, if he were on PRP we would expect him to run back to his supervisors and tell them how he was exposed to toxic fumes and almost blown up. We would then expect his supervisors to temporarily suspend him from PRP duties and send him to the Immediate Care Clinic for evaluation. We would also expect all the appropriate notifications to be made and the paperwork to properly document our actions. And the entire PRP support team would get together periodically to ensure we got all the paperwork right.

Whether gopher or janitor, the fundamental point behind PRP is: it's a 24/7/365 gig and key enabler of our mission, requiring the whole team's involvement to ensure freedom's future.