By Marcus Hill | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — While most Schriever Airmen arrive at the Enoch and Irwin gates before their 7:30 a.m. duty day, there are always a few cars headed in the opposite direction.
First Lt. Sergio Baez, 4th Space Operations Squadron crew commander of charlie crew and mid shift worker, is among those leaving as others arrive.
“A typical work day for me starts about 30-45 minutes before we changeover with the off-going crew,” Baez said. “I get a detailed turnover from my counterpart’s mission plan of my shift, get a sense for the ops tempo for the day, and set up a timeline of activities we have going on.”
It’s critical for Baez to piece together this information to ensure his team is informed and prepared for the “day.”
“It’s important that everyone knows what’s going on with the other crew positions so that we can make informed and effective decisions to both prevent things from going wrong and to act quickly, decisively, and correctly when things do,” Baez said.
Their work resembles a game plan in sports; Baez makes sure to get everyone on the same page to execute the strategy, then, they set out and accomplish the tasks.
Senior Airman Jonathan Wilt, who now works 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the training section at the Cyber Defense Correlation Cell for Space or CDCC-S, previously worked the night shift in the same position and preparation for his shift began well before he arrived on base.
“To get prepared while I was on shift work, I’d make sure I’d have all my errands done the day prior to me working,” Wilt said. “It’s more difficult to find time to do tasks, such as grocery shopping or laundry. While on shift, I’d wake up at 5 a.m. to get ready for work and would get home at about 7:30 p.m. Now that I’m on day shift, I wake up at 5:30 a.m. and get home around 5 p.m. so I can be more flexible with my time management.”
Wilt said working nights had challenges as well. Even though fewer people are on base at night, ops tempo doesn’t slow down; night shift is held to the same standards as day shift.
“The biggest drawback for night shift for me is actually falling asleep during the day and getting proper rest,” Wilt said. “It’s easy to mess up your sleep cycle and it’s hard to spend time with others because the majority of the world is asleep while you’re awake.”
Though both Baez and Wilt are happy to support the mission as needed, both are happy to have “normal hours.”
For Baez, he’s happy to spend that time with his family.
“Being on mid-shift is a nice break from the hectic activities of day shift,” Baez said. “But as a family man, I am excited to get back onto day shift to spend more time with my family. It will also be nice to interact with some of the more technical aspects of the job as most engineering support and squadron leadership are on a day-shift schedule.”
Returning to a morning routine, however, comes with several challenges. Baez said he attempts to adjust to the change as swiftly as possible since it’s a tough process.
“Transitioning from mid (shift) to day is probably the hardest to do,” Baez said. “I take a quick nap after the shift and then try to stay awake through the rest of the day as much as possible. My family helps a lot with keeping me awake, especially my kids.”
Shift changes don’t just affect Baez’s home life and sleep schedule, it also impacts errands he’d normally do prior to work.
Airmen who work mid or night shift have more time to sleep in as well as create appointments, time for the gym and other tasks outside of work. That changes with an expectation to arrive at work earlier.
“When I work mids, I make my appointments early in the morning so I can knock them out right when I get off work,” Baez said. “I also want to spend as much time with my family as possible, so I try to adjust my sleep schedule to make sure I give them the time they deserve.”