By Michael Vernon Voss
WPNSTA Yorktown Public Affairs Officer
Signing in on a sheet is how many Winter Safety Stand Downs begin, but as Virginia State Trooper Orlando Coronado detailed the devastation he sees at accidents every day, “Oh my God and Wow” could be heard from Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Sailors.
The WPNSTA Yorktown Safety Office held the annual Winter Safety Stand Down at the Nelson Chapel, here, Nov 17.
The aptly titled “What If” slogan for the Stand Down included briefings designed to make the Sailors and Civilians assigned to the installation think, What if she had worn their seatbelt, What if he had put the phone down verses texted while driving, What if they had taken a cab home from the bar.
“Times have changed,” explained WPNSTA Yorktown safety specialist John Riter. “It isn’t just about driving while intoxicated. Today, driver safety is challenged by everything from alcohol to cell phones.”
As part of the Safety Day briefings, Trooper Coronado and WPNSTA Yorktown Firefighter Bryan Shaver shared photos and powerful details of actual accidents they had responded to on roads that cross near the WPNSTA Yorktown gates.
“These accident calls affect so many more individuals than most understand,” said Shaver, a 30-year Virginia Beach EMT volunteer. “Often the first responders are the ones who see the carnage, or hear the suffering of loved ones as they arrive at the scene of accidents. This pain stays with you.”
While increased traffic on the nation’s motorways traditionally lead to a majority of holiday accidents, safety experts reminded the Safety Stand Down attendees there are more than 600 Americans killed every year in holiday accidents ranging from house fires caused by Christmas tree fires and even burns from Turkey Fryers.
“A little known fact many people may not know is each year more than 11 million dollars in property damage results from fires caused by Christmas trees, electrical fires from twinkle lights and turkey fryers,” said James Roach, WPNSTA Yorktown safety specialist.
As everyone returned to their offices, the Yorktown Safety Office felt confident they had reached their goal of designing this year’s Stand Down to do more than fill a requirement, but to get attendees to stop and ask What if.
“We want our Sailors and Civilians to leave this briefing thinking What If,” explained Riter “If they remember there are simple steps that can be taken to stay safe during the holiday season tragedy can be avoided.”