Story and photos by MCC(SCW/SW/AW) Ryan G. Wilber, NCBC Gulfport Public Affairs
Leaders of Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Miss., and 20th Seabee Readiness Group (SRG) Safety Offices moved their annual 101 Days of Summer Safety Stand Down out of the classroom and into the fresh air to train military members and Department of Defense (DoD) civilians on recreational safety, on board NCBC, May 8.
Safety Stand Downs are DoD-mandated trainings held at key times during the year, such as before the summer season. Historically, summer is a high-risk time for off-duty recreation safety mishaps.
Although safety stand downs are mandated, the delivery format is not. NCBC and 20th SRG safety leaders moved the training outside to provide a more hands-on experience.
“We decided to conduct the safety stand down [outside], because it gives more interaction for the troops rather than sitting in a theater getting a brief. They can actually go around and be more involved in the topics, and pay better attention to what’s being taught,” said Chief Builder Charles Updike, 20th SRG safety chief.
The stand down was focused on off-duty recreation safety, an area of concern for command leadership, due to the many hazards associated with the summer months.
“Safety stand downs, such as this one, refocus the troops on recreational safety,” said BUC Updike. “We spend a lot of time during the week talking about work safety, and typically Seabees are safe at work…it’s when they go home that they have accidents or safety incidents, lawnmower accidents, biking accidents, trips and falls at home.
“This refocuses the troops to pay attention in their own home,” Updike said. “Our goal is to increase the knowledge of the troops, and by doing so we add the focus on recreational safety, which translates to fewer mishaps. It gives the leadership an opportunity to reengage their troops as well.”
The training was presented through 13 interactive stations in areas such as cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, camping, boating, bicycle safety and fire prevention. Based on the participants’ reactions, it is safe to say that the training was a success.
“I enjoy it. I think it’s a lot better than sitting in a training hall listening to slides over and over again,” said Builder 3rd Class Zachary Crouse, 20th SRG. “This is actually a lot more open. I like the civilian clothes and fresh air.”
According to Updike, statistically, safety stand downs result in fewer mishaps, but the effectiveness does not last forever. He encourages department leaders to continue to engage their troops and employees in more personal conversations about off-duty safety to reinforce formal training.