How not to be in an ‘invisible force fi eld’

Rear Adm. John Fuller

Rear Adm. John Fuller
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

Region and MIDPAC team,I published this at the beginning of the year — safety advice for on base and off. So far this year we’ve seen an unfortunate and preventable upsurge in traffic accidents and incidents. We need to turn things around. Read this and apply it to this summer, starting now. We can do better. We will do better, but only with your help.

Have you made any New Year resolutions? Have you already broken some?

Here’s a resolution for 2017 that we can make together. And it’s one worth keeping. Ready? Safety first, foremost and forever.

Also: don’t think you can enter an “invisible force field.” (More about that in a moment.)

Wear the ‘VEST’

Let’s be Vigilant in the months ahead. Let’s be aware of our surroundings and the potential for danger, and let’s look for opportunities to prevent accidents and mitigate risk. Work to avoid crises; always have a plan – and a plan “B.”

Let’s be willing to Engage: See something, say something; know something, do something. Stand up and be disruptive if necessary when you see something wrong, and learn to follow up on those gut feelings.

Let’s use Speed. Think about all those times when bad things happened because no one was willing to speak up or act. Now consider those other times when someone acted quickly and intervened when they knew about an unsafe situation?

Let’s act Together. Safety and security are not someone else’s problem or responsibility. Collectively, we all have the imperative to protect ourselves and our loved ones, our friends and co-workers, and our neighbors and partners in our ohana.

A Culture of Respect

The military is known for having a strong ethos and core values. We developed a culture of respect. That means we respect ourselves and our shipmates. We have overcome difficulties and earned trust by giving respect.

We must reject destructive behavior there are better alternatives than drug and alcohol abuse, sexual harassment and assaults, and unsafe conduct on and off base. Don’t let any circumstance or “in-the-moment” urge obscure the fact that those destructive behaviors represent a breach of trust and can be career-ending.

So, resolve to think and act soberly, sanely and responsibly, not just because it’s a new year, but also because it’s part of the core values that helped our military develop and maintain the respect of our grateful nation.

Riding a motorcycle? Obey the rules of the road and the laws of physics. Always use personal protective equipment.

Hiking Ko‘olau or Kalalau trails? Follow the laws and don’t take unnecessary chances.

Crossing the street? Take responsibility and make sure drivers can see you and always make sure they stop before you walk or run in front of a car. That’s what we tell young children before we let them cross the street by themselves.

I like what Region Chief of Staff Capt. Jim Jenks says about this:

“The crosswalk is not an invisible force field that will protect you from a car coming toward you at 30 miles per hour.”

In conclusion: I need your help. Please reinforce the VEST – Vigilance, Engagement, Speed, Together concepts. All I’m really asking is that you take an extra moment before you act so you can make common sense decisions. I’m asking you to keep building our healthy culture of respect and real life operational risk management.

We employed these principles proactively last summer during RIMPAC – with 25,000 international guests here. And, with just a few exceptions, we had a safe and secure summer at our installations and off base.

While we did a great job in 2016, I’m betting those who were hurt feel we had one too many incidents. So, let’s make 2017 even safer.

As we get the word out about the uptick in traffic- and pedestrian-related incidents, folks are offering their recommendations through their chain of command and in online social media. I encourage you to keep those suggestions coming and to be part of the solution. Most of all, use common sense, keep your eyes up, remove distractions and respect the hazards. Thank you.

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Category: News