Help prevent accidents, loss in our Guard

By Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Varble, Safety Specialist

The Kentucky National Guard has lost three Guardsmen from our formations withing two weeks.

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Historically as the weather turns warmer and nicer there is an increase in accidents. This year we went from snow to warm sunshine rapidly and with that change came tragedy. We have lost three Soldiers from our formations (all within two weeks of each other); two were tragically lost in POV/POM accidents, and one to a permanent partial disability while training. The question we need to ask ourselves, is does this actually have to be the case?

The second and third order effects of these losses are difficult to quantify, but rest assured they will be felt. Everyone can agree that the loss of even one Soldier is one too many. The Kentucky Army National Guard has also averaged one vehicle accident every 10 days for the last 90 days. Loss of equipment also affects unit readiness.

As we move forward into warmer weather it is incumbent on everyone to be mindful of what they are doing; to shake off the cobwebs of winter and not be hesitant to return to the basics of crawl, walk, and then run. Communicate to our Soldiers how important they are to the organization and how their safety is important to us. Remind our Soldiers that when they leave our formations at the end of training that we expect to see them come back. Safety should not just be a Guard thing, but the right thing.

In years past we have seen many safety campaigns that have highlighted the importance of safety and risk management. I can remember the “Take 5” campaign that reminded us to give pause in order to use the five steps of composite risk management.  The truth to all accidents is that we can’t take them back once they happen. We do not have a reset button. If we did, we would have our three Soldiers back in our formations we’ve lost this spring. Safety is not a mission add-on, it must be ingrained into the mission.

Finally, safety is not the only solution to protecting our most valuable resource, Soldiers. The Stop the Loss campaign started as a comprehensive look at how to protect our Soldiers. Along with safety, we should continue to monitor their physical and mental, resiliency, and the spiritual needs of our Soldiers. We have resources in the J-1 and Chaplaincy to help busy commanders, command sergeants major and first sergeants, I encourage everyone to reach out and utilize the J-1 resources.

From the safety office, Be Safe, Stay Safe!!!

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