Prevention and mitigation keys to Old Guard Safety Day

By Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks

Downed power lines, drinking and driving, and motorcycle safety were just some of the topics discussed during The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)’s annual Safety Stand Down Day, May 16, at Conmy Hall and the Community Center on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va.

More than 1,500 Soldiers gathered to hear important information about a range of safety issues and concerns for the summer months and year-round, which coincides with the Army’s 101 Days of Summer Safety Campaign.

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Utility workers from Dominion Power and Electric demonstrate the dangers of downed power lines for Old Guard Soldiers at the regiment’s annual Safety Day. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody W. Torkelson)

“Statistically speaking, there are more incidents that occur in the summertime than any other season, so the intent of Safety Day is to set aside a specific time to just focus on how we can mitigate this problem,” said Kerry Kolhof, Occupational Health and Safety Manager for The Old Guard. “It’s the times when you let your guard down for a split second that people get hurt.”

Kolhof said the leaders at The Old Guard want Soldiers to really consider safety measures especially when they are off-duty.

“This seems to be the Army’s biggest challenge because we can’t always stop Soldiers from doing high-risk activities, but we can educate them on the consequences of their actions,” said Kolhof. “Leaders who train their Soldiers in identifying and preventing hazards will less likely find those Soldiers in a bad situation.”

The crowd of Soldiers was divided onto two groups to be able to visit each safety station; where there were displays of proper safety procedures on a whole spectrum of possible hazards ranging from fires to vehicle accidents.

Staff Sgt. Monica Banks, a Soldier who began riding a motorcycle just a month and a half ago, closely inspected all of the proper protective equipment for riding a bike.

“I thought the brief was very informative, and it provided opportunities for new riders like me to ask questions about the dangers out there,” said Banks, food service noncommissioned officer, 529th Regimental Support Company, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. (The Old Guard). “I am always concerned about getting into an accident when riding into work, especially in this area where there is so much traffic on the roads.”

Not only did Banks enjoy the motorcycle training, but she boasted that the entire day was beneficial for everyone in attendance.

“The block of instruction was invaluable. It is important to review these safety issues because they are overlooked sometimes,” said Banks. “No matter how long you have served, no one outranks the cost of carelessness.”

Staff Sgt. Monica Banks inspects motorcycle protective equipment during the Old Guard's Safety Day. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody W. Torkelson)

Staff Sgt. Monica Banks inspects motorcycle protective equipment during the Old Guard’s Safety Day. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody W. Torkelson)

Kolhof said safety remains a priority for the Army, Military District of Washington, and The Old Guard, and if one life was saved, the training was a success.

“Soldiers shouldn’t walk away with the attitude that an accident can’t and won’t happen to me,” said Kolhof. “We are not trying to prevent people from having fun, but the purpose is to warn them on how to be safe when they’re away from the unit with their families and friends.”

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