print story Print email this story to a friend E-Mail

tool name

tool goes here

JBLM's safety expo opens eyes to danger

Northwest Guardian

Published: 12:00PM May 29th, 2014

With an extended weekend from the office, safety might be one of the last things on someone’s mind, especially a four-day Memorial Day weekend that kicks off this year’s summer days.

That’s why Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Safety Operations Branch brought together installation entities and civilian organizations to promote precaution during the JBLM Safety Expo May 22 at the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s festival tent on Lewis Main.

“Sometimes all people need is a little flick of cold water to the face to remind them what’s important,” said branch manager Joy Fowlkes.

Some of the highlights came from hands-on simulations of the dangers on the road to cars or motorcycles.

JBLM safety specialist David Paasch said there are a large number of traffic-related injuries and deaths among service members, mostly when they are using their personal vehicles.

USAA Insurance representatives brought a text-and-drive simulator for service members to show them, in a safe environment, how dangerous and difficult it is to text and drive at the same time.

The virtual reality car had controls that simulated being behind the wheel, with a cell phone receiving text messages to respond to while attempting to maintain the speed limit, make turns and avoid other vehicles or buildings

“I thought I was doing a good job but when I looked up at the screen, I was swerving,” said Spc. Daniel Wright, 17th Field Artillery Brigade.

USAA representative Brad Magick told service members that texting while driving causes more vehicular accidents than drunk driving.

“At least drunk drivers are looking at the road,” Magick said.

That’s not to say driving while impaired is any easier, as the JBLM Command Management Evaluation and Training Team showed service members through beer goggles that represent seeing at blood alcohol levels ranging from having one beverage to three times the .08 legal limit.

“One drink is too much, especially when you get behind the wheel,” COMET’s Theron Smith said.

Sergeant 1st Class Nathan Currie, 56th (I Corps) Army Band, took his time through the course set up in the parking lot between the fest tent and the AFC Skate Arena. But Currie still hit a few cones that represented pedestrians.

“I’m sure most people don’t drive slowly,” Currie said. “I think it adds to the realization that you don’t see as well.”

While making smart decisions during the four-day holiday weekend, Sound Transit asked service members to sign up for an Undriver’s License and take a pledge to try using another commuting option in the next 30 days. In the new campaign’s first year, more than 1,000 people have agreed to use alternative transportation.

Everyone who signed up personalized their pledge to what form of alterative travel they would use — carpooling, walking, riding a bicycle or using mass transit.

“We wanted to talk about other ways to get around,” said Amanda Wright, marketing and events specialist for Sound Transit. “It’s more likely they’ll stick to that personalized pledge.”

The installation’s Fire and Emergency Services, Directorate of Emergency Services and other groups also provided information on how to not only be safe at the workplace on base, but practicing things like fire safety and when using electronics and other tools at home.

Several companies brought samples and informational pamphlets on what they offer to help make work and home life safer.

“It’s the things we’re most familiar with,” Fowlkes said. “Its driving, ladders and electrical equipment.”

The event came near the end of JBLM’s Safety Week, but will continue through the summer when more service members look to get out and travel while enjoying the weather in the Northwest. The Safety Operations Branch and unit leadership plan to continue promoting safety awareness among their troops heading into each weekend.

“Enjoy the start of your summer, but make sure you make it to the end and beyond,” Paasch said.