Story and photo by Andrea Sutherland
For many Soldiers, safety briefings are another bullet point on a long list of “must do’s” before being released to enjoy a holiday or long weekend.
Knowing this, officers with the 759th Military Police Battalion decided to take a different approach to the unit’s Fourth of July safety brief, bringing in experts from the American Red Cross, Fort Carson Fire Department and Memorial Health System to give hands-on demonstrations to the Soldiers and their Families.
“Safety doesn’t have to be boring,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Heberer, commander, 759th MP Bn. “When done the right way, safety training can be very powerful.”
MPs rotated through eight stations, learning about motorcycle safety, the importance of wearing seat belts and how to properly secure a child seat in a vehicle. Children got up close with a blue-tongued skink, whipped scorpion and a North American porcupine as docents from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo educated Family members on the different animals.
“They have some decent classes here,” said Sgt. Tony Petro, 127th MP Company. “The (child passenger safety) demonstration gave me some ideas.”
Cpl. Jorge Abreu, 127th MP Company, tested the seat belt demonstration, which simulated a crash between 5-7 mph.
“Even at 7 mph it hurt my shoulder,” he said. “I’ve never been in a crash, so I’m sure it would be a lot worse.”
Representatives from the American Red Cross said the opportunity to speak with Soldiers and Family members one-on-one was beneficial.
“It’s more effective,” said Thomas Pardee, Red Cross volunteer. “When you’re lecturing to people in formation, a lot of the guys don’t listen. This gets us out to meet Soldiers and answer their questions.”
Pardee offered brochures and tips on fire prevention as well as fire and disaster safety plans for families.
“They have a lot of good resources out here,” said 1st Lt. Caitlyn French, operations officer, Police and Provost Marshal Division. “Bringing in these outside agencies is a huge asset for our Soldiers.”
1st Lt. Jamar Baker, 759th MP Bn. safety coordinator, said it was important to incorporate Families into the safety day since many of the activities Soldiers enjoy also involves their loved ones.
“We have the Fort Carson Fire Department here to educate Soldiers on the proper way to put out campfires,” he said. “We have demonstrations on child restraints and how to perform a thorough inspection. … I’d rather have too many things to do. This way, no one’s looking to escape.”
“We want to keep Families as safe as our Soldiers,” Heberer said. “Strong Families equal strong Soldiers.”