Pushing past contenders to retain safety crown
June 11, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany - The final question in this year's Summer Safety Showdown stumped everyone except the 102nd Signal Battalion's Spc. Brian Miller and his teammates.
"Who can do the most pushups in two minutes?" was the question team members from the 102nd and the 2nd Signal Brigade had to quickly answer after the Jeopardy-style game ended in a tie.
Miller was confident he could do it, and he was correct. He completed 73 pushups, while Sgt. Byron Collins from the 2nd Signal Brigade completed 61. This was the fifth time in a row that 102nd Soldiers won the event, Miller said, but the first time they won it as a result of pushup ability.
Members of both teams proved they knew their safety facts after they tied with $4,600 in the final round of the game, held May 22 - shortly before the Memorial Day weekend to remind everyone to be careful -- at the Little Italy Restaurant and Catering Center. Between 250 and 300 Soldiers attended.
A total of 10 teams participated, and they learned about a variety of safety subjects, including water safety, motorcycle safety and driving safety.
Joseph "Safety Joe" Michalkiewicz, the 5th Signal Command safety manager, said he created the game in 2000 in Mannheim as a way to encourage Soldiers to learn about safety. Soldiers in Wiesbaden have played the game for at least three years, he said.
The game that is formatted like the popular television game show offers a winter version that is played shortly before Christmas, Michalkiewicz said, and a summer version that is played just before Memorial Day weekend.
Michalkiewicz said he developed the game to effectively teach safety without preaching.
Miller said his group got together and studied for the game five times, including a last-minute lunch session right before the game.
Sgt. Ricardo Reyna, also on the 102nd team, said he and Spc. Carlos Saldurraga knew they would not be able to win the pushup competition because they had both completed a physical training test that morning. "Miller felt confident he could do it, so we let him," he said.
Safety is extremely important at 102nd, Reyna said, and he often tells Soldiers to think before they act and that if something does not feel right to do, it probably isn't.
The battalion also places an emphasis on communication, Reyna said, and Soldiers are good about calling for a ride when they need one.
U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's commander, Col. David Carstens, praised Michalkiewicz for putting together a program that led Soldiers to think about safety in a unique way.
Learning safety facts in a classroom can sometimes be a snoozer, Carstens said, and Soldiers at the Summer Safety Showdown learned about the subject effectively. "There seemed to be a whole lot of learning going on," he said.
Col. Bruce Crawford, 5th Signal commander, said Michalkiewicz did a great job organizing the event. "This is above and beyond what he is paid to do," he said.
Safety is an important subject, and the game gave Soldiers the opportunity to do some hard thinking about it, Crawford said.
"We are losing way too many Soldiers to careless acts, when it could have been avoided," Crawford said. "That's not just a lost Soldier, that's a young child that grows up without a father. That's a spouse that goes without a significant other. That's a whole lot of people and families affected because somebody wasn't paying attention."