On Wednesday, Master Sgt. Todd Bigney of the United States Air Force visited Fort Dorchester Elementary School to speak to students as part of the schoolís career day.

Bigney, who is stationed at Charleston Air Force Base, told a class of captivated students that he had been to 29 different countries and worked on 13 different types of airplanes.

Bigney, who works in the field of aircrew life support, is responsible for ensuring the safety of Air Force pilots. He showed the students an array of safety equipment such as life preservers, oxygen masks and a bulletproof jacket, all of which the students eagerly volunteered to try on.

Students asked Bigney how dangerous his job is and what he likes and dislikes about being a member of the Air Force.

ìLike any job, there are highs and lows,î said Bigney, who told the students that while his job is very rewarding, it requires him to be away from his family for a significant amount of time, which he finds difficult.

Among the equipment that the children found to be the most interesting was an emergency passenger oxygen system (EPOS) ñ a mask that resembles something a beekeeper might wear to keep his or her head from being stung.

ìEPOS are used on a plane if there is smoke or an emergency in which an individual canít get oxygen,î Bigney told the students. ìEPOS can provide oxygen for between 15 minutes and 1 hour depending on how much the individual panics.î

Bigney assisted two students who wanted to wear the oxygen systems. Once Bigney was ready to move on to his next topic, he asked each of the students if they would like help removing the EPOS.

Both students politely declined, trotted back to their seats and happily wore the lifesaving devices for the remainder of Bigneyís visit.

Contact Michael Tannebaum at 873-9424 ext. 215 or mtannebaum@journalscene.com