By Kirk Fechter, Garrison Safety Officer

(This is the first part in a series about HP)

Safety on the Fly - Health Promotion (Part 1)

(NOTE: If I eliminated all the noise of everything here at Fort Meade in the last 14 years, it would be that reading, studying and adopting AR 600-63 Army Health Promotion (HP) has revolutionized my performance as a Safety Professional, and I would recommend similar study to everyone. A Great web site to visit is the Army Public Health Center's (HP) and Wellness. )


Health Promotion is a "team of teams" approach at Ft Meade, just as Safety is a pillar of the Protection team. I have managed the Installation Ergonomic program team at the Fort Meade installation as well as for the Garrison. Safety is now a legacy participant on the Installation Prevention Team. I work very closely and collaborate with the all the program managers of (HP),


When I brief the history of the HP team, it starts with a blank page. I remember Kenneth Jones, the ASAP director, and I discussing this. Mr. Jones arranged training and Fort Meade formed the first HP team. Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center (KACC) provided a HP coordinator and was succeeded by a US Health Service Commander. MEDCOM noted the Fort Meade team and added a Wellness Center. MDW also noted the commitment and formed its own committee and provided a contractor as a coordinator. When the contractor term ended, this role was shifted to the Garrison, ASAP, and the Installation Prevention Team (IPT) succeeded the HP team.


In the novel, The Eiger Sanction, a world-class mountain climber who trained again after a lay-off had to recognize his limitations. I started running again. I picked up my pace and I tore my left hamstring muscle. I have had to go easy which is frustrating for someone who is a Type-A, competitive person.


For the new fiscal year (FY21), I went through the Health Promotion programs and I did a self-assessment. I would recommend this to everyone (Don't read this about me, but how you can apply it to yourself.):


Substance Abuse—I don't have this issue, but it was at Fort Meade, during ASAP training, that I better understood substance abuse. I learned that some prescription medications should not be ended suddenly. It might be necessary to taper off under medical supervision. I also have the warning that pain medications, though they will not be addictive when in extreme pain, can become addictive if continued after the pain goes away. I have never driven a vehicle (or aircraft) impaired by a substance. As a safety professional, I remind people of this test of an addiction problem. If you are impaired by a substance, and you operate a vehicle, you have committed a felony. That identifies a substance abuse problem.


Suicide Prevention—I also have strength in this area. I have not only had great training at Fort Meade, but also by Living Works which qualified me to be an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training trainer. I have facilitated or participated in 35 two-day workshops. A facilitator not only teaches, but also becomes a student. I also have some continuing education in this area. I learned in the ASIST training that one powerful tool is "self-care.” In the ASIST workshops, we have an exercise: Everyone is instructed to practice self-care as a homework assignment. I have seen a variety of responses. One person said, “I took time for a shower.” Others reconnected with family, they exercised, they watched a movie, etc.


Stress Management—All self-care listed (not listed) above in Suicide Prevention support Stress reduction. As I age, I also must lower some of my goals and objectives as I recognize my age creates limitations. There is a synergy in the programs. The Army 700-page suicide prevention study discovered that some suicides were proceeded by missed ASAP appointments. So strength in ASAP gives strength in Suicide Prevention, and strength in Suicide Prevention gives strength in Stress Management.


(End of Part 1)