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Four Ways Safety Starts with Us

It’s been a few years, but I remember one motor vehicle accident very clearly. A single car went off the road and flipped multiple times. The driver was ejected, and the passenger was partly ejected and crushed under the car. The driver had been drinking and the car probably flipped 28 times due to the very high rate of speed.

Standing there with my firefighters, looking at the crushed and broken bodies, I had to wonder if there was anything that could have been done to prevent this.

The other day my boss sent out some sobering facts for our state of South Carolina. So far this year we have had 55 civilian fire deaths and 627 automobile-related deaths. Any way you look at these numbers, they are bad… bad for the citizens we are here to protect, and bad for the first responders (including some of you) who have been on scene and have the stark and sometimes very disturbing mental images of those terrible events.

Think the casualty numbers are not your concern because you’re a chaplain? It’s all too easy to stay in our “spiritual care” lane and leave the prevention aspect to others. Yet even as a chaplain, there are things we can and should do to help reduce tragic deaths in our towns and cities.

Here are four ways we as Public Safety Chaplains can support the mission of our agencies and serve our communities.

1. We can practice fire safety in our own homes.

Make sure your smoke alarms are not more than 10 years old and, if needed, have fresh batteries in them. Practice fire drills with your kids. Fire safety is a whole family affair and not just for school time. If your home does not have fire sprinklers, install them if you can. If you see a problem, act. For more information:

2. We can practice safe driving on the roads.

Drive the speed limit. Reduce speed for hazards. Be kind and use that blinker. Remember, you probably have a bumper sticker on the back of your car that identifies you and your favorite department or your faith. For more information:

3. We can promote safety.

Join your department’s public education efforts. What a wonderful place for a chaplain to serve: Not only do you get to serve your first responders, but you get to serve the public, too. Go on a smoke alarm blitz. I’ve been on a few in the last year throughout the state just after a fire fatality. This is a great way to minister to a hurting community. Also, participate in a child safety seat installation. Help your first responders keep our little ones safe in their vehicles. For more information:

4. We can pray.

And finally, don’t forget to pray. Let’s keep our citizens and their safety in our prayers.

Chaplain Chris Wade

Vice President

South Carolina Public Safety Chaplains Association

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