In anticipation of the 4-day weekend in order to celebrate Memorial Day and the start of Summer, there was a mandatory safety standdown at my command this morning. As usual procedure dictates, everything stops and everyone gathers to learn about safety for the umpteenth time in their careers. Expecting a fun-filled morning learning about DUIs and Summer Safety, I was “pleasantly” surprised when the schedule of events went in a wildly different direction. Originally, the Executive Officer of the command shared a few words about training, and how when we train in the military we do it for a reason, not just to get a check in the box. We’ll come back to that point later.
First off, we were captivated with the same slide show from 6 months ago for the holiday safety standdown from the local police department. Yadda yadda yadda, don’t speed on the island, follow traffic signs and don’t use your phone while driving. All good points, even if we have heard them time and time again. After that, things got weird. In an effort to discuss the Navy’s addition of the Alcohol Detection Device (ADD) program, two folks from the command were given beers and food to consume for later testing of the breathalyzer. Then we were treated to a lecture that seemed to go on forever from a “financial counselor” who seemed to have a lot of bad advice. Some coworkers even asked if I was okay, due to the facial contortions I was making at her statements. For someone advising people in financial matters, she didn’t seem to know much, nor have the skill for delivery.
For the next presentation, we learned about how the Navy (and our command) would implement the ADD. At one point in the presentation, a senior officer basically pointed out the inaccuracies of the slide show, and the person responsible for the program had no viable response. Instead, in true Navy fashion, he skipped over the questioning and continued with the slide. If anyone who has been in the Navy for at least a minute, knows that if you have a presentation, you make sure that it is complete. Next up was the ADD testing. Given that the volunteers had consumed beer and food about an hour previously, supposedly they were ready to test the breathalyzer results. The male volunteer tested with a BAC of 0.021, while the female volunteer tested with a BAC of 0.043. The point that they were making is that alcohol affects people differently. Check. However, the reality of the test was that the 210lb male had consumed 2 beers, while the 160lb female had consumed 4 beers. Given that information, the results are what one would expect, not taking into account that alcohol affects people differently. If they wanted to show that, each volunteer would have consumed the same number of beers.
For the last series of presentations, we were treated with a lecture about hazing, a lecture about ORM and finally, a lecture about Summertime safety. I’m not sure what the hell hazing has to do with Summertime fun, but I learned about all the stupid and irresponsible things that people do in the military that are considered “tradition”. To finish up our training, the Executive Officer once again took the stage to summarize everything that was presented in the last 3+ hours and to give his thoughts on each topic. By the time it was all over, no one was paying attention and just wanted to exit as quickly as possible.
- Responsible Driving Habits: Check. Even if it’s the same one we saw 6 months ago, it’s repetition that counts.
- Responsible Alcohol Use: Check. Unless you count the fact that the example is that two people drinking different amounts of beer will have different BAC counts when tested. The scientist in me screamed out loud at this experiment.
- Financial Counseling: Check. Although I’m not 100% as to how that is affected by the Summer season.
- Hazing: Check. I’ll be sure to stop threatening my kids with swirlies, as those are the only people I tend to haze, and I do so within the bounds of legal parenting.
- Operational Risk Management (ORM): Check. While somewhat applicable to people doing stupid shit over the Summer, not really effective as ORM is sort of a joke.
- Summertime Safety: Check. Even if the entire presentation was read by the audience and consisted of slides that contained more words than the latest edition of Webster’s.
I guess the penance for having a 4 day weekend is having to sit through those 4 hours of hell. I shouldn’t complain, but honestly, we could have covered all of the ‘necessary’ topics and been in and out in less than 90 minutes. That extra time could have been dedicated to our actual mission: teaching students to serve in the fleet. But hey, I need to know about financial matters for the summer, right?