By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleMay 22, 2013
Soldiers and civilians learned about the dangers of touching electrical power lines, drunk driving and additional hazards during the Army Air Operations Group's Safety Day Tuesday.
The event, hosted in the 12th Aviation Battalion's Lakota Hangar, featured display tables and demonstrations highlighting the importance of safety on the job and at home.
Organizations such as Dominion Power, Fairfax County Police Department and the Red Cross filled the interior and exterior of Lakota Hangar and taught safety lessons.
"Safety is the first responsibility for each Soldier and civilian within the Army Air Operations Group," said AAOG Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn Jones. "This is a great opportunity for all of our Soldiers to come together and meet people from different units within AAOG while learning about different aspects of safety."
AAOG plans, coordinates and executes aviation operations such as technical engineer rescue missions and flight traffic control. The unit also transports Army and Department of Defense senior leadership using fixed wing and rotary aircraft. AAOG's leadership organizes and hosts a safety day annually to provide personnel a learning opportunity in a social environment.
"Safety is an important aspect in everything we do in aviation," Jones said.
Safety representatives set up activities to help participants understand the importance of being safe and prepared. One activity encouraged seatbelt use as participants sat in a machine called "The Convincer," which simulates the impact of a car crash. Another activity demonstrated the affects of alcohol on simple tasks. Soldiers and civilians attempted to shoot baskets or drive a motorized chair through a course of cones while wearing "drunk goggles." The goggles are special glasses that mimic the effects of alcohol on the brain.
"I couldn't even count when looking at my fingers," Spc. Shelly May, 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company automated logistics specialist, said after wearing the goggles and attempting to drive the motorized chair. "Drinking and driving is the number one thing we do not need to do as Soldiers."
Dominion Power hosted one of the more popular activities during the event as they demonstrated the consequences of touching downed electrical lines that haven't been tagged as clear by Dominion Power workers. Soldiers and civilians gathered outside of the Lakota Hangar and watched as Dominion Power workers placed household items on live power lines. The combination produced a sound similar to that of canon fire and the items flew several feet over the heads of spectators. The demonstration taught spectators the importance of staying away from power lines, according to Bernie O'Bannon Jr. and Mike Breeden, Dominion Power safety and performance specialists. Dominion Power shows this demonstration to first responders who often encounter downed power lines during natural emergencies and car crashes. The number one message is that no one should touch a power line until a Dominion Power Professional says it's OK.
"We want everyone to be aware of the dangers of working and being around electricity," Breeden said. "We teach the Do's and Don'ts."
AAOG's safety day was very helpful for Soldiers, according to Sgt. Caroline Marrero, 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company heavy equipment operator.
"We work with these types of items every day and you can become complacent," Marrero said. "Having an annual event serves as a reminder to the importance of safety."
Sgt. Darius Mitchell, 12th Aviation Battalion retention noncommissioned officer, said the day provides a morale boost for Soldiers.
"It's good to see all of AAOG's units together because we don't get to see each other each day," Mitchell said. "It's good seeing your brothers and sisters in arms."