By Staff Sgt. Lesley Waters, CJTF-HOA Public AffairsMarch 30, 2009
CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti - Servicemembers forward deployed at Camp Lemonier gathered for the Camp's quarterly Safety Day, March 27, 2009.
The safety committee, made up of volunteers around Camp, took ownership of this project and started the planning process and brainstorming ideas in January.
"They came up with the concept, divided into task teams and brought it all together" said Navy Lieutenant Kay Gschwind, Camp Lemonier safety officer.
Gschwind, a San Diego-native and 21-year Navy career officer, knows why it is important to hold quarterly safety days.
"Awareness is key to preventing mishaps, and awareness is a perishable skill, it needs to be renewed at regular intervals," said Gschwind. "Taking time out of our regular work schedule to focus on safety topics, all together as a team, reinforces the importance of making safety the priority in everything we do."
The committee divided Safety Day into two sessions, with three groups participating in three different activities. The activities were open to everyone living and working at Camp Lemonier. Although watch standers and mission-essential personnel were exempt, the goal was to reach as many people as possible with the message that safety is an all-hands concern. Safety committee members said they wanted more hands-on demonstrations, and less classroom presentations.
"We wanted to avoid the 'Death by PowerPoint' as much as possible," said Gschwind. The safety committee provided Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Awareness discussions. The camp's fire department personnel demonstrated proper use of fire extinguishers and handling the fire hose. They also showed how to operate an Automated External Defibrillator. The safety committee members hosted the Camp's first version of Safety Day Jeopardy.
"I hope we all paid attention, and keep this part of the training in the forefront of our minds because you really never know what a person is going through," said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Lillian Moss, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa strength management supervisor. "We have to take care of each other and not be afraid to reach out."
The safety committee wanted to reach as many service members as possible with the message that safety is an all-hands concern.
"The importance of a safety stand-down is to pause for a second and get back to the basics," said Marine Staff Sergeant Alvin Figueroa, safety committee member. "In our busy lives deployed here we get wrapped around work, and forget to follow the simple basic safety rules."
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class John Vredenburgh echoed Figueroa's sentiments.
"My hope is that everyone achieved a higher level of awareness of the potential hazards and solutions to issues that we face as part of an expeditionary force, thus reducing the potential of a team member becoming the mission versus supporting the mission," said Vredenburgh.
As Camp Lemonier moves from an expeditionary to an enduring base, each camp member should remember mission first, safety always.