The personnel of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., joined together on Thursday to complete the 101 Days of Summer, an all-hands safety stand-down, with the support of Marine Corps Community Services and the Yuma community.
Each squadron separated their Marines and sailors into smaller platoons and their specific squadrons, marched them between four separate training locations aboard station. The training classes were led by MCCS representatives, along with local authorities from the Yuma community. This annual training is mandated by 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., but actually takes place throughout the Marine Corps each spring.
A wide range of topics were covered during the briefings, including water and firearm safety, alcohol abuse and DUI policies, as well as sexual assault prevention.
This all-hands training, prepared MCAS Yuma’s personnel for the time between Memorial and Labor Day – the long-awaited months of sunshine, when accidents, crime and dehydration cases rise with the temperature.
To keep the personnel engaged during training, the safety department on station designed the stand- down to rouse greater participation and entertainment. Steve Verret, the “Cajun Comedian,” gave an alcohol abuse class that stirred laughter while creating some friendly competition. MCCS also gave personnel a chance to submerge their substance abuse counselor in a dunk tank… but only if they were able to hit a target with a baseball while wearing goggles that simulated intoxication.
Joseph Bottum, the director of 101 days of summer and a safety department representative, explained why these unorthodox tactics were integrated into the stand down.
“Usually safety stand-downs tend to be too mundane – the same thing over and over,” said Bottum. “I was over at the hangar earlier, watching the Cajun Comedian give his class, and he had the Marines rolling on the ground with laughter . They were participating. They were engaged. It’s good to break away from the usual trends so that they can take something away from the training.”
Although the training was aimed to leave personnel with fond memories and a deeper comprehension of the facilities and programs that are in place to protect and provide for them, Bottum said he hopes the Marines and sailors also left the event with an understanding of its vital underlying message.
“Safety is everybody’s responsibility, not just one person,” said Bottum. “I hope the Marines take away the understanding that we [MCCS and the safety department] are here for them in any way, shape or form; and that during the summer months - safety is of the utmost importance.”