FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Fla. - Safety is a recurring theme in all aspects of Army life, particularly as the summer holidays approach. From weekly safety briefings to larger presentations, soldiers are constantly reminded of unsafe behaviors and safety procedures.
The 704th Military Intelligence Brigade observed a Safety Stand Down Day May 22 at McGill Training Center. Soldiers split into groups and received briefings from law enforcement and public safety figures.
Firefighters from the Fort Meade fire department demonstrated fire extinguisher use, and allowed soldiers to use fire extinguishers to put out a controlled fire. They gave a tour of the equipment and supplies within one of their fire engines and answered questions about it.
Spc. Michael Urrutia, a signals intelligence analyst with Bravo Company, 742nd MI Battalion, said it was his first time using a fire extinguisher.
“It was good to have the experience pulling the pin and using it in a sweeping motion,” he said. “Now I’ll be familiar with actually using it if I ever need to put out a fire, rather than just hearing how it works.”
A Maryland State Police officer addressed driving safety, driving under the influence and the legal consequences of speeding and distracted driving, before the guest speaker, Amanda Kloehr, spoke about the devastating consequences she experienced from her own distracted driving incident.
Kloehr, was serving in the Air Force at the time, was stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, and was driving to Virginia to visit friends one weekend in 2008. She was in heavy traffic and distracted by the radio, talking on the phone and texting during her drive.
“I was driving behind a van with three kids in the back and a mom and dad in the front seat,” she said. “I was doing about 65 or 70 and tried to pass the van. But when I pulled into the left lane, I didn’t see the tractor trailer that had stopped in the left lane.”
Kloehr said she hit the truck so hard that her Acura Integra pushed it six feet forward. The collision snapped her ankle almost completely off, and fracture her jaw in four places. A piece of broken glass cut her eye in half.
Even after 20 surgeries to reconstruct her face and spending two years in and out of hospitals, Kloehr said she feels that she was fortunate in many ways. She survived the crash, and she hit the back of the tractor trailer instead of the van full of passengers, leaving her the only person who was injured.
“You need to be aware that driving in a responsibility and a privilege,” she said. “Every time you get in your car, you’re taking the lives of everyone in your car, and everyone on the road, in your hands.”