CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- The 401st Army Field Support Brigade held a safety stand down in preparation for the extreme summer heat here, May 28.During the event, 401st AFSB personnel attended heat illness prevention training led by Area Support Group-Kuwait Preventative Medicine Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, Staff Sgt. Mark Almendares."Training is important because the topic of heat illness applies to everybody," Almendares said. "If we can educate every individual to raise awareness on heat illness and try to prevent heat illness then everyone should be able to do their job effectively, and more importantly, safely."Temperatures at Camp Arifjan are already reaching 110 degrees in May, and are expected to rise above 130 throughout the summer according to weather.com.
"Of the hazards that are associated with this area, heat is a hazard of particularly high concern," said Jeremy Ford, safety specialist, 401st AFSB. "The safety stand down gives us an opportunity to gather our personnel and make sure heat illness prevention is at the forefront of awareness."The 401st AFSB only had one heat related injury through the last year."We are taking a proactive approach to get people prepared and get them in the mindset protecting themselves from the heat," Ford said. "We have people working on tanks in the warehouses and people out in the sun performing quality assurance checks over every inch of these trucks."Risk factors for heat illness include age, gender, medication, previous heat illnesses and being too motivated, according to the training material provided by the U.S. Army Public Health Command."It's imperative they know how to minimize the risks of heat illness and how to identify the symptoms if someone becomes a casualty of the heat," Ford said.The 401st AFSB safety team holds several safety stand down events throughout each year that focus on topical safety concerns facing the unit."During the last year we've been able to really improve the brigade safety program," Ford said. "We've taken a proactive approach to training and accident prevention from top to bottom and back to the top."Ford is currently the brigade's only safety specialist due to a high rate of personnel turnover, which he said is his motivation to continue creating continuity tools for the next group."We have an exceptional program right now," Ford said. "The accidents we're seeing are very minimal. Occasional twisted ankles and fender benders are pretty minimal accidents when you consider we're dealing with tanks and Bradleys and MaxxPros moving around constantly in our area. It could be a lot worse."The 401st AFSB and Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait at Camp Arifjan saw an 85 percent decrease in contractor accidents during the last year, which Ford attributes to proactive training and leadership support."The command group and the leadership is a big part of the success," Ford said. "They've been very receptive to the guidance we provide and they are actively interested in our analysis for various risk factors. Leadership has been very engaged and very supportive of the safety program."