FORT JACKSON, SC -- Soldiers with the Soldier Support Institute got off to a running start last week, but were told to stand down for the rest of the day. Both the motivational run that started the day and the stand down from regular activities, were part of the SSI's safety day, which took place May 20 at Darby Field and at the post theater.

The event emphasized the importance of off-duty safety, said Robert Erhardt, the SSI's safety manager.

"Our off-duty safety, which is really what this is about, is so important because the Army loses almost three times more Soldiers in off-duty accidents compared to on duty," Erhardt said. "Ninety percent of our recordable accidents in the Soldier Support Institute last year were off-duty accidents. So, if we want to curb or reduce our accidents and our fatalities, it has to be off duty. On duty we're already pretty good."

On- and off-post organizations were at hand to inform the SSI's Soldiers, civilians and family members about car, boat, motorcycle and fire safety before the beginning of the summer travel and outdoor season.

One of the attractions throughout the day was the impaired driving course, which gave attendees the opportunity to safely experience how drinking alcohol or using drugs affects their driving. Drivers could choose between a pedal cart and a motorized go-kart.

Drivers of the pedal cart were wearing blurry vision goggles to simulate the impact alcohol and drugs have on a person's vision. The motorized go-karts are equipped with a remote sensor that delays the reaction of the driver.

Pvt. Rishad Stone, Company B, 369th Adjutant General Battalion, said it was hard to drive the motorized go-kart.

"You can't really control it," Stone said. "When you turn it, it might turn farther than you expect."

During one of the day's lighter moments, members of the Lake Murray flotilla of the Coast Guard Auxiliary took the opportunity to enlist the help of Soldiers in an effort to set a world record.

At 11 a.m., safety day visitors, along with participants across the country, inflated life jackets as part of the National Safe Boating Council's Inflatable Life Jacket World Record Day.

Burnette Sheffield, flotilla staff officer and vessel examiner, said that life jackets are an invaluable aspect of boating safety.

"We're telling (boaters) that when they're on Lake Murray, we will help them if we can find them, and the best way for us to find them is for them to have a life jacket on," she said. "So we're really pressing using life jackets when boating or when ... on the lake."

Other safety day activities included motorcycle safety briefings, a rollover crash simulator, vehicle safety inspections and demonstrations by the Fort Jackson Fire Department and the Military Police K-9 unit.

Second Lt. Demoulh Dudley, Company A, Training Support Battalion, said the activities and briefings heightened his awareness about the importance of safety training.

"I didn't realize how many Soldiers are involved in vehicle accidents throughout the year," Dudley said.

He added that he plans to make safety an important aspect of his leadership philosophy throughout his Army career.
Dudley's plan is in line with one of the goals of the event.

"The goal is to instill a culture of safety in our future leaders and Soldiers who can then take it out to the rest of the Army," Erhardt said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16