2018-06-08 / Front Page

Fort Gordon hosts Safety Day

Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

Hundreds of Servicemembers and civilian personnel took to Barton Field for the installation’s annual Installation Safety Day June 1.

Led by the Fort Gordon Installation Safety Office, the main purpose of Installation Safety Day is to assist commanders in their efforts to enhance their safety programs in preparation for the 100 Days of Summer safety initiative.

Agencies from Fort Gordon and across the Central Savannah River Area participated in the event with information displays, live demonstrations, training, and opportunities to speak with personnel from a wide range of local agencies.

Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, North Augusta Public Safety, Fort Gordon Department of Emergency Services, Directorate of Public Works, the Army Substance and Abuse Program, and Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center were among others who participated.

The day also included several blocks of instruction at Alexander Hall. Class topics included summer sports, range control unexploded ordnance, sexually transmitted diseases, texting and driving, lawnmower safety and snakes, and substance abuse.

George Conrad, Fort Gordon and Cyber Center of Excellence senior safety specialist, said that an increase in travel, alcohol consumption, summer activities, and exposure to environmental hazards contribute to making summer a potentially dangerous time of year.

“You got longer daylight hours, kids are out of school people are outside more, alcohol consumption goes up, people are boating, riding their motorcycles, the heat factor ... you’ve got three months of people wanting to do a lot of things,” Conrad said.

Summer can and should be enjoyed, but with safety in mind. Simple everyday activities such as driving can pose a serious threat if done carelessly.

Emphasizing the importance of wearing a seatbelt, the Byron Police Department partnered with the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to bring a rollover simulator and seatbelt convincer.

The rollover simulator uses a dummy to show how wearing a seatbelt can help keep you in a vehicle and potentially save your life. The seatbelt convincer is a tool used to convince people to use a seatbelt by showing them how the impact of a low-speed crash feels. At 5 to 10 MPH, the impact is just enough to get most people’s attention.

“We can’t do a high-speed impact obviously because that would involve someone probably getting hurt, so we tell folks to imagine they’re going 55, 60, 70 miles per hour ... especially if there’s an airbag in the car, and the airbag comes out at 200 miles an hour,” said Lt. Bryan Hunter, patrol commander with Byron Police Department.

Statistics show that approximately 63 percent of people who have died in car crashes were not wearing seatbelts.

“That’s a really high number, and we’re just trying to spread the message to get everybody to buckle up,” Hunter said. “It takes two seconds. And its’ the law.”

Personnel from Fort Gordon Natural Resources Branch had venomous and nonvenomous snakes on hand. Adam Weatherford, mobility specialist with NRB, said the intent was to educate people on the differences between them, emphasizing that all snakes bite, but that each has different hazards.

“The best advice that we have for folks is to leave them alone,” Weatherford said.

Emphasizing that snakes are not the only risk, he advised that people be extra aware of their surroundings, especially in wooded areas.

“Poisonous plants such as poisonous ivy, poisonous oak, different inspect species ... we’re trying to give everybody a better idea of what you may run into in our environment,” Weatherford said.

Recognizing that Servicemembers are at risk of experiencing crises any time of year, even summer, representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Crisis Line encouraged people to reach out if they need help.

“We want them to call us and talk to us about what’s going on, what struggles they’re having,” said Kelly Lannon, health science specialist with Veterans Crisis Line. “Sometimes people just want to talk and feel like they’re not being a burden to someone who’s closest to them.”

Conrad said he looks forward to next year’s safety day being even bigger next year. He also said that he hopes participants took away valuable insight on how to have an enjoyable, safe summer.

“Think safety, act safely; on duty and off duty,” Conrad said.

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