Although a little tougher to track down now, the new location of the Fort Drum Command Safety Office is well worth your visit, officials say.
Services have been centralized at one spacious campus located in Bldgs. 10281, 10282 and 10283 on 4th Armored Division Drive, just a few blocks north of Clark Hall off Mount Belvedere Boulevard. For people who have never even heard of 4th Armored Division Drive, that’s the bad news, said Dave Mushtare, senior safety director.
“People hear we are on 4th Armored Division Drive and they say, ‘Oh no! That sounds like a place that I’ll get lost. Is that somewhere on South Post?’” he said. “But it’s not hard at all. It’s around the corner.”
The good news? Services formerly scattered across post are now provided in one place – on a campus with larger classrooms, roomier offices and on-site driver simulators.
Mushtare said his office is the latest tenant to move out of Clark Hall, which is being converted into a one-stop shop for all in-processing personnel.
He said when safety was headquartered at Clark Hall, people streamed in and out of their offices throughout the day. But business has slowed substantially since then.
“When people got out of their (in-processing) safety brief,” he said, “they ran upstairs and were knocking the door down to sign up for winter driving classes, simulator training, motorcycle safety course and so forth.
“Unfortunately, now that we’ve moved, that natural customer base of walk-ins is no longer there and they may not know where we are at,” he said. “Now that we are not right there under their nose, what we want to say is, ‘Hey, our location has changed, but our services haven’t.’”
Mushtare said the three main pillars of any safety program are being proactive, visible and accessible. Since the move, he said the Command Safety Office staff has felt a disconnection with their customer base.
“We’re not as visible and accessible as we were (at Clark Hall),” he said. “But it’s only because of the move. I think we can get reconnected.”
He said a part of getting reconnected means getting Soldiers, Families and civilians the information they need, such as motorcycle safety, boating safety, snow blower safety, water safety and even lists of off-limit recreational areas in the North Country or tactical safety requirements for Soldier road marches.
“I could go on and on and on,” he said. “We offer (information about) everything from industrial safety to tactical safety to family safety. All of that is still here with us. They just have to come to the right place.”
One way Mushtare gets word out to Fort Drum community members about their safety programs is through outreaches. He mentioned their next significant event will be Family Safety Day on Nov. 2, in which safety staff and partners will offer attendees everything from legal support and spiritual support to road, home and fire safety information.
“The original reason that we termed it ‘Spouse Safety Day’ was because we were trying to help spouses during times of Soldier deployments,” Mushtare said of the fair’s recent name change. “When their spouse was away, there were so many things on their mind. But Soldiers are welcome, too.”
He said with winter approaching, the demand for the snow blower safety course and winter driving orientation classes increases. Simulators at the safety campus allow people to sit behind a wheel and go through risk-management scenarios on winter conditions.
“Our simulators can replicate any adverse weather condition,” Mushtare said. “We can do rain, snow, fog, wind, night or bright lights.”
He said for country road driving, additional road hazards can be inserted, such as jumping deer, stationary cows or farm vehicles.
For motorcycle riders, he said letting your bike take a spill on one of the motorcycle simulators won’t cost a person anything – financially or physically.
“What we say is ‘come crash in class,’” he said. “We don’t want you getting hurt out there. You can come in here and go through that scenario as many times as you need to – fail as much as you need to – until you master that road condition.”
There is also a private area of the facility set up with one motorcycle and four POV simulators for people who prefer more personal, one-on-one instruction.
Mushtare said walk-in service for Family Members only is available all day on the first Saturday of each month, and the same service is offered to Fort Drum civilians the last Wednesday of the month. Anyone interested in the free training may call the simulator’s chief instructor, Tom Wood, at 772-4672.
“We want to get reconnected with (the community), especially with newcomers to post,” Mushtare said. “Our job is accident prevention. I can’t prevent the accident if I can’t train you, inform you and connect with you face to face.”