On a hot and steamy central Texas morning the first of two waves of hundreds of Soldiers gathered around the entrance to Phantom Warrior Stadium to kick off the inaugural Safety Day event, May 19, 2023, at Fort Cavazos, Texas.
The Fort Cavazos garrison safety office planned and organized the event and informed the Fort Worth District’s Central Texas Area Safety Office (CTAO) during the early stages of putting the event together.
“Since this event involved the entire installation, I wanted to seize the opportunity to be part of this worthwhile event,” said Dan Juracek, the CTAO safety officer. “We have a great relationship with the garrison safety office and attended the bi-weekly progress reviews leading up to the event.”
Overall, there were more than 50 safety-related booths highlighting areas such as automobile, fire, home, and electrical safety. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) supported the safety event with four booths. Juracek manned a construction safety booth while a cadre of park rangers manned a water, dam, and boating safety booth.
The construction safety booth provided general safety information on a range of construction safety considerations such as the wearing of proper safety equipment, including eye, hearing, and fall protection gear.
“Everyone is a safety officer,” said Juracek. “If you see something that doesn’t look or feel right or is a clear safety violation – speak up and enforce the standard.”
There are several area lakes that Soldiers and family members visit in the central Texas area. Belton, Stillhouse Hollow, Waco, Georgetown, and Canyon Lake are among those most frequently visited by the military community due to their proximity to Fort Cavazos.
“We want everyone to come out to our lakes and have a good time, but we want them to think safety first and be aware of our regulations and policies,” said Belton Lake lead ranger Jewel Hale.
Hale, tasked with overall site coordination for the lake offices, provided oversite for the three booths manned by the district’s park rangers.
“Our boating booth was set up to provide information on boating safety and to encourage boat operators to conduct boating and water safety checks before getting out on the water,” said Hale.
The second booth manned by rangers was the water safety booth. Here, general water safety pamphlets were available to booth visitors along with trinkets and giveaways designed to attract visitors to the booth. But once there, rangers surprised the visitors with a pop quiz on water safety topics.
Hale and fellow rangers stressed the importance of wearing a Coast Guard-approved and properly fitted life vest when in and around water. They also instructed people on how to assist potential drowning victims.
“REACH, THROW, ROW; DON’T GO is what we emphasize as the safest way to assist a distressed person in the water,” said Fort Worth District park ranger Lynlee Russell. “Remember, even a strong swimmer can drown trying to help others.”
Belton Lake park ranger, Cassy Hill assisted military visitors at the dam safety booth with “America the Beautiful” passes, which according to the National Park Service, are good for a year’s worth of visits to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the country, including all national parks.
The booth also had a model of Stillhouse Hollow Dam, which Capital Region Deputy Operations Project Manager Heath McLane used to explain the different components that make up a dam.
“We wanted to educate everyone on the complexity of the dam, how it operates, what goes into doing inspections and what dam safety is all about,” McLane said.
Vending trucks with an assortment of food and beverage items for purchase, along with festive music, kept things lively as the second wave of Fort Cavazos Soldiers descended around the stadium built by USACE back in 2012.
“This was an awesome inaugural safety day event and next year we will look at ways to make this even bigger and better,” said Juracek.