By Staff Sgt. Rob Strain
15th Sustainment Brigade
FORT HOOD, Texas – Soldiers and civilians of the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command took a day, Nov. 20, to stand down and focus on safety issues at home and in the workplace.
The day consisted of a number of classes on various safety topics like vehicle and motorcycle safety, fire prevention, winter driving, and cold weather safety.
While the day's activities and classes focused on specific topics, safety training is something that should be constantly happening, said Command Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel Bartee Sr., the brigade's senior non-commissioned officer.
"Training doesn't start today for safety," Bartee said. "Training is everyday."
He explained safety training happens with the first-line leaders, the squad leaders, by checking on Soldiers in the barracks and in the motor pools, making sure they are doing the right thing.
"What is so important about stand-down for safety?" Bartee asked the Soldiers in formation at the start of the day's activities.
"When we're doing this, and we do it right - we can save Soldiers' lives, we can minimize the risk of damage to equipment," Bartee said.
Bartee explained the Soldiers of the 15th SB move equipment, vehicles and cargo containers, for many of the other units on Fort Hood on a daily basis, and he wanted the Soldiers to be proud of their current safety record.
"For the amount of equipment that we move, we are a safe brigade," he said.
According to Dave Sullivan, the brigade's safety officer, the primary area's of focus for the day's training was on winter driving and holiday safety.
He explained many Soldiers have never driven in Texas during the winter, and it can pose challenges to new drivers. Sullivan also talked about the upcoming holidays, and how there have been problems over the last couple of years involving fires due to frying turkeys and overloading electrical circuits.
As the Soldiers of the brigade's Special Troops Battalion conducted their classes, they learned a number of tips for winter driving, including the kinds of emergency items they should keep in their car and what to do if they get stuck in snow.
Soldiers of the brigade's 49th Transportation Battalion conducted many of the same classes, including one on cold weather safety and first aid.
Sgt. Apollo Sharpe, electrical technician, 602nd Maintenance Company, said there are a number of misconceptions about what will keep people warm when it is cold outside.
"Alcohol will not warm you up," Sharpe said.
He went on to explain drinking alcohol, as well as smoking cigarettes causes the blood vessels in the body to constrict, which may give the impression of getting warmer, but in actuality, the blood just isn't flowing to the extremities.
Sharpe also discussed the importance of dressing in layers to avoid frostbite and hypothermia, as well as what to do if a Soldier needs to treat someone for a cold weather injury.
"Attempt to stabilize their temperature, and avoid further heat loss," Sharpe said.
Sharpe explained that being prepared for the cold is important, especially in Texas, because the weather here can lull people into a false sense of security.
He said that it's not the actual average temperature in Texas that can really harm people, rather it's the difference in temperatures between night and day, which according to Sharpe, can be up to 40 degrees apart.