KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany –
With the heat of summer at our doorsteps, heat illness awareness and summer safety are paramount.
LaShaun Chappell understands the importance of using a team approach to help prevent heat injuries – or any other types of injuries – on the job or at home.
“I just want everyone to look at safety as a team, not as an extra duty,” said the Logistics Readiness Center Rheinland-Pfalz safety and occupational health specialist. “We're all responsible for looking out for each other and pointing out things to help reduce the likelihood that we become injured, unnecessarily. That's what I really want to drill home.”
When it comes to heat injuries – on and off duty – when there’s strenuous activities involved, Chappell said taking rest breaks, hydration and keeping plenty of electrolytes in your system is extremely important. And knowing the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke is critical.
According to the U.S. Army Public Health Center, signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, headache, nausea, weakness, unsteady gait, muscle cramps and fatigue. The person’s core temperature may also be elevated, but symptoms often resolve rapidly with cooling intervention. Treatment of heat exhaustion includes resting in the shade, cooling, loosening of clothing and removing head gear, drinking 1.5 quarts of water over a one-hour period, and evacuating the person if no improvement or conditions worsen.
Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include a change in mental status such as confusion, delirium, being combative or a loss of consciousness. Also included is profuse sweating, vomiting, weakness, convulsions and chills.
The most important thing to remember, according to the U.S. Army Public Health Center, is heat stroke is a medical emergency and in severe cases can be fatal. Rapid cooling and calling for immediate medical evacuation are critical.
“If you start to feel severe symptoms of heat illness, seek medical assistance immediately,” Chappell added.
When Chappell is not solely focused on summer safety and heat illness awareness, she’s also the expert on workplace safety at LRC Rheinland-Pfalz, 405th Army Field Support Brigade.
Starting out as a safety intern with U.S. Army Forces Command, Chappell was quickly exposed to the importance of the Army Safety Program. And after finishing her internship, Chappell didn’t just sit in the safety office at her first assignment, either. Thanks to her supervisor at the time, Chappell was given the opportunity to visit multiple FORSCOM units and do hands on safety training with them, providing instruction on everything from tactical to hospital safety.
And the learning didn’t stop there. At Chappell’s next assignment with the Corpus Christi Army Depot in Texas, she was immersed into heavy maintenance and depot-level safety.
“It's an aviation maintenance depot so it has a wide range of safety considerations and it's fast paced and fast moving,” she said. “What kind of maintenance do they do? What regulations, policies and technical manuals are used? I had to learn all of that so that I could be of service to them.”
From there, the 49-year-old safety expert was assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and the 505th Military Intelligence Brigade, U.S. Army North.
It was a little different because much of what intelligence does is sensitive, but there was still plenty of safety oversight needed, especially when they went out to the weapons qualification ranges or were tasked to support various operations and missions, she said.
Since 2021, Chappell has been working at LRC Rheinland-Pfalz – managing and facilitating its safety program.
“When I first got here, it was a lot of building up the safety program and making sure all the policies and procedures supporting Army Regulation 385-10 and the Army Safety Program were in place and being utilized,” said Chappell who holds a master’s degree in public health from Walden University.
“I go through a lot of document reviews to make sure they’re current and up to date. I also like to go out with the hazardous material teams and assess the areas, do follows ups and provide visibility,” said the native of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Education is another major area of emphasis for Chappell.
“One of my biggest things as a safety professional is I want people to understand that we must incorporate safety into all the different things we do day-to-day, not treat safety as a separate function,” she said. “When you incorporate safety into your everyday duties and activities, it becomes muscle memory, which ultimately helps to reduce injuries and accidents.”
“But more importantly, I try to remind people that safety is not only for them as employees of the Department of Army. They all have families. They all have loved ones. Things that happen on the job can affect their loved ones at home, too,” she said.
LRC Rheinland-Pfalz is one of seven LRCs under the command and control of the 405th AFSB. LRCs execute installation logistics support and services to include supply, maintenance, transportation and food service management as well as clothing issue facility operations, hazardous material management, personal property and household goods, passenger travel, property book operations, and non-tactical vehicle and garrison equipment management. When it comes to providing day-to-day installation services, LRC Rheinland-Pfalz directs, manages and coordinates a variety of operations and activities in support of U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz
LRC Rheinland-Pfalz reports to the 405th AFSB, which is assigned to U.S. Army Sustainment Command and under the operational control of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The brigade is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and provides materiel enterprise support to U.S. Forces throughout Europe and Africa – providing theater sustainment logistics; synchronizing acquisition, logistics and technology; and leveraging U.S. Army Materiel Command’s materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website at www.afsbeurope.army.mil and the official Facebook site at www.facebook.com/405thAFSB.