What do you get when you combine hazardous materials with a competitive game of Cornhole? The latest U.S. Army Garrison Fort Bliss Safety Stand Down and Organizational Day.
In support of the Fort Bliss Safety Program and the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center’s Spring/Summer safety campaign, the garrison workforce and family members gathered at Biggs Park for a business-casual day of instruction and getting to know co-workers, June 3, 2022.
A “stand down” is a military term for when a unit will temporarily slow down the operations of the day, so that employees can get away from their work centers and focus on an immediate topic. The Bliss Safety Office and Directorate of Plans, Training, and Mobilization-run event was the garrison’s first of its kind in more than two years due to previous COVID-19 mitigation measures.
The Bliss garrison workforce is the backbone of operations at the installation, a designated Department of Defense “power-projection platform,” and covers a myriad of missions, from managing almost 925,000 acres of training space, to overseeing barracks management and public-private housing operations.
With residents like the 1st Armored Division, Joint Task Force-North, and the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, if Bliss was considered to be a city, the garrison command would be its City Hall, serving a population larger than nearby Horizon City, Texas.
Garrison directorates like Public Works offered Environmental Safety briefings; Human Resources focused on the garrison’s Army Substance Abuse Program with an altered driving course; and Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation brought firearms safety experts from the Fort Bliss Rod and Gun Club, as well as aquatics specialists from their sports program who offered some hands-on, summer recreation life preserver tips.
In a nod to COVID safety and maximizing the training’s effectiveness, presenters were posted in different areas of Biggs Park to limit crowds and small groups toured all of the stations, leaving ample time for Q&A during each tour stop.
Following the safety instruction, civilians stayed on and partied into the afternoon as leaders and co-workers shared beverages and barbecues with fellow directorates. Soldiers, civilians, and family members faced off on the fields of play in competitions like volleyball, Cornhole, water balloon toss, and more, as Biggs transitioned from training stations to a backyard fun fest with food trucks.
Four engine companies from the Fort Bliss Fire Department, part of the installation’s Directorate of Emergency Services, as well as chiefs, inspectors, and staff were on hand for the stand down.
Fire Inspector Michelle Shipley, who led the hands-on fire extinguisher training, said she appreciated the opportunity to talk to teammates face-to-face about ways they can help prevent fire emergencies before the worst happens.
“That’s the most important part of my job in my opinion,” Shipley said. “More important than inspecting, more important than plans review, getting the opportunity to tell people how to react and what to do – before an emergency – is legacy building. They will pass it down.”
For more information on the Fort Bliss Safety Program, visit https://home.army.mil/bliss/index.php/about/Garrison/safety-office.
For more on the Army Safety Program, visit https://safety.army.mil.