A look at safety, security this summer

Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

(Editor’s note: The ‘101 critical days of summer’ begins this weekend and lasts through Labor Day. More mishaps and fatalities occur nationwide during the 101 days of summer than during the rest of the year.)

One of the best ways for us to be safer and more secure, both on and off duty, is simply to be aware of our surroundings. You can’t “say something” if you don’t “see something.”

Here are a few things I’ve seen recently: The other day I was driving on base and stopped at one of the new flashing crosswalks on North Road as a pedestrian hurried across the street. The driver in the oncoming lane was distracted (I could see her perfectly from my vantage point not paying attention) and nearly plowed into the Sailor who was halfway in the crosswalk. Fortunately, she saw the offending driver and stopped in the crosswalk until all was clear. For a heart-racing moment, it looked like a tragedy was about to occur in front of me.

Lesson: Our pedestrians are safer when they pay attention to their surroundings, when drivers are not distracted, and when everyone anticipates danger. It goes both ways for drivers and pedestrians to pay attention to their surroundings. Of course, drivers have an added responsibility to obey speed limits and realize they are operating a potentially lethal machine with a lot of kinetic energy.

Another observation… While coming aboard the base the other day, I saw a car operated by a tourist who had to be turned around at Nimitz Gate. This happens here hundreds of times a day and peaks at almost 1,000 times on some days. It’s a safety and security concern, and it contributes significantly to traffic backups.

The Joint Base commander is taking action. Capt. Jeff Bernard and his team are working with GPS providers, including Google, so those companies can do a better job directing visitors to the National Park Service’s Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

We’re enforcing a holding distance for vehicles entering the gates, with updated signage in place. Again, this is both a safety and a security measure, and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation and patience. By the way, our hard-working auxiliary security force surged to provide more guards in incoming lanes in the morning.

Safety and security of our installation’s infrastructure – and the wellbeing and protection of our people, assets and facilities – is my highest priority as commander of Navy Region Hawaii.

Speaking of safety, let’s be aware of something else – and this applies to each of us: the need to look after our shipmates and wingmen.

We have all seen situations where someone made a poor decision, and prevention could have helped derail a tragedy. I’m talking about assaults and other violence, drunk driving incidents and off-duty accidents, and preventable mishaps.

Let’s not forget, many of these incidents happen well after midnight, when Sailors or Airmen are separated from their peers, and where alcohol is involved.

As we start the 101 critical days of summer, we can manage risk both on and off the job if we commit to good situational awareness, accountability and responsible behavior to stay safe and secure this summer in Hawaii nei.

With the Rim of the Pacific exercise coming, it will be a busy summer. Let’s be as safe as we can, especially by looking after our colleagues, co-workers and friends.

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Category: News