Eye on safety: from Buffalo to Afghanistan
December 5, 2012
At one point or another, in almost any job, the saying, "Safety is everyone's responsibility" has been used to convey the importance of employees taking an active role in their safety program. Some may consider them just words, but not Jean Brockner, a Buffalo District Contract Specialist.
In March of 2012, Brockner deployed as a procurement technician to the Corps' Afghan South District, Kandahar, Afghanistan. Given Brockner's history of working as an Emergency Management Specialist, she was quickly given extra duties as part of the base's Emergency Response Team. From March to October, she assisted in no less than four medical responses ranging from mental health issues to life threatening situations.
"You learn when you are overseas the people around become your friends, family and overall your support system," said Brockner. "It was an easy decision for me to join the medical team and be there for whoever needed my help."
One day while looking for the base's Fire Evacuation Plan, Brockner found that it was virtually nonexistent and decided to take action. She brought this deficiency to the safety officer's attention. He then sent it to a project manager to work on corrective actions to the plan.
Her biggest break came when she ran into Lt. Col. Stephen H. Bales, Afghan District South's Deputy Commander. Bales, had been commander of the Buffalo District just a few months before, knew Brockner and what an asset she could be to help fill the gaps in the fire plan.
"Jean approached me and filled me in on the deficiencies she had found. I instructed her to contact Buffalo District, get their Fire Evacuation Plan, modify it for Afghan South and present the leadership for Afghan South with possible solutions," said Bales.
A few weeks later Brockner found herself standing in front of Bales and leadership from IT, security and the safety office briefing them on her version of Afghan South's Fire Evacuation Plan. With very few changes, the plan was unanimously accepted.
"Some big changes to the plan were: designation of fire wardens; a process for accountability; sweeping buildings; and having cards with emergency numbers posted by each phone," said Brockner.
Aside from the base's operation and procedures becoming safer, this process had other positive outcomes.
"This was a great example of many different things," said Bales. "It showed how districts and employees can work together to standardize procedures across the Corps and how one person recognizing a safety deficiency can make a huge difference."
Safety is everyone's responsibility. It only takes a few minutes to address a safety concern that could save lives. If you see an unsafe act take, report it. Be the person to prevent an unsafe act before it happens.