By Lori Yerdon, U.S. Army Combat Readiness CenterMarch 28, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 28,2017) - Anyone associated with the Army has undoubtedly heard the adage, "There are no new accidents." Yet, in fiscal 2016, 109 Soldiers lost their lives - and thousands more were injured - in preventable accidents.
In an effort to curb these needless losses, the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center is soliciting ideas from the field. In the coming weeks, the USACRC will launch Safety Tube - a platform for Soldiers and civilians to submit videos aimed at convincing their peers to assume ownership of their personal safety.
"The concept for Safety Tube is for Soldiers to think outside of the box and reach their battle buddies in regard to safety and best practices," said Tracey Russell, Ground Division, Directorate of Assessments and Prevention, USACRC. "Our young Soldiers are very creative and more likely to listen to each other."
After scouring the Internet in search of Soldier safety products, Russell happened upon a video on YouTube created by Capt. Robert Shepherd of the Ordnance Training Detachment.
Shepherd, a 17-year veteran stationed at Fort Gordon, produced "Army Safety briefing - I got your back battle" a video and song originally intended for a talent show.
"As a rear detachment commander in Germany, I performed 'I got your back battle' and the reception to it astonished me," Shepherd said. "Afterward, a young audience member came up and asked, 'Where's the CD? I like that song!' At that point I knew that if it resonated with her, then it would likely speak to Soldiers, especially younger ones."
After the show, Shepherd modified the song slightly by adding the element of safety. He also decided to make a video to reach his target audience - Soldiers.
"On rear detachment, there were instances of Soldiers getting DUIs and other problems," Shepherd said. "I wanted to do something to get their attention and that's where the concept for the video came from."
Soldiers in his unit volunteered to participate in the video, which has earned rave reviews from Shepherd's Soldiers, peers and leadership.
"We were looking for best practices already out there and we saw Captain Shepherd's video," Russell said. "He was able to illustrate how safety briefings don't have to be boring, covering the same topics and in the old same format."
Shepherd said he believes the Army has many creative Soldiers.
"There's a lot of talent out there," he said. "If we can tap into that resource and focus on getting the message out to their peers and to the masses, then we'll have a significant impact on the Army."
Even after a permanent change of station to Fort Gordon, Shepherd has continued his innovative approach to reaching Soldiers.
"I organized a Brigade's Got Talent competition (with a theme related to safety, SHARP and suicide prevention) and it was amazing to see the innovation," Shepherd said. "Soldiers sang, danced and displayed their skills. The outcome of that event far exceeded expectations."
With Shepherd's video nearing 1,000 views, he's optimistic that the key to reaching Soldiers is peer-to-peer influence.
"When it comes to safety, you cannot be narrow-minded," Shepherd said. "A Soldier's level and responsibilities often reflect how they look at safety. Safety is about being able to control your scope of influence. Everyone needs to take ownership of the areas that they can affect and help mitigate risks associated with their mission."
For more information on how to submit videos to Safety Tube and to view Shepherd's award-winning, "I Got your Back Battle" video, visit https://safety.army.mil/MEDIA/SafetyTube.aspx.