Key leaders at Naval Station (NS) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, hosted the annual winter holiday safety stand-down at the installation’s Bulkeley Hall auditorium, Nov. 27-28.
Officials at the naval station conduct two safety standdowns per year in an effort to promote safety awareness; one at the beginning of summer and one before the winter holiday season.
“We’re here to discuss mishap precautions and prevent off-duty accidents,” said NS Guantanamo Bay Executive Officer Cmdr. Colin Caswell. “Realistically, Sailors need to care about themselves and what they’re doing, because any mishap will affect mission readiness.”
Among the myriad of topics discussed, the stand-down focused mainly on suicide prevention, motor vehicle safety and residential risks associated with the holiday season.
“It is a very stressful time during the holidays,” said NS Guantanamo Bay Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program (SARP) Counselor Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Matthew Murcin. “Statistically, the military sees a ‘spike’ in the number of suicides during the holiday season. As of Nov. 1, there have been 54 reported suicides in the Navy. Whether or not it’s stress, depression or other factors, we as leaders need to be aware of the warning signs associated with suicide and take the necessary actions to prevent it.”
As part of suicide prevention awareness, service members in attendance were presented with handouts outlining the Navy’s Ask, Care, Treat (ACT) policy and the warning signs associated with suicidal behavior.
“It’s important for us to watch out for everyone and know that we can lower the suicide rate around us,” said NS Guantanamo Bay Fleet and Family Support Center Educational Services Facilitator Lara Tur. “The unique position we are in at GTMO is that we have a very ‘close-knit’ community and we can all look out for each other.”
During the standdown, attendees were also informed about the risk factors associated with fatigued holiday travel, and the dangers of drinking and driving and overall alcohol abuse.
Service members were also advised to take the necessary precautions when using holiday items such as decorative lights and “turkey fryers.”
“Overall, we are concerned with holiday accidents and how it affects readiness,” said Caswell. “This stand-down is targeted to keep you safe and provide you with useful tools you may need during the holidays.”
Naval Today Staff,November 30, 2012; Image: US Navy