Fort McCoy News July 28, 2017

Summer hazards discussed

during installation's July SOHAC meeting

Public Affairs Staff

The Fort McCoy Safety/Occupational Health Advisory Council met July 11 to discuss safety issues relevant to the upcoming training season.

High temperatures and humidity are common during Wisconsin summers, so it's important to watch out for signs of heat-related injuries, Safety Specialist Don Vender said. It's important not only for Soldiers out training in the field but for civilian workers whose jobs take them outside.

"You need to keep that in mind for your employees, too," Vender said. One way to mitigate risks is to schedule outdoor labor and heavy lifting for the morning when it's cooler, if possible.

Don Vender (left), safety specialist with the Installation Safety Office, gives a presentation June 11, 2017, during the quarterly Fort McCoy Safety/Occupational Health Advisory Council in building 905.
Don Vender (left), safety specialist with the Installation Safety Office,
gives a presentation July 11 during the quarterly Fort McCoy Safety/
Occupational Health Advisory Council in building 905

Heat cramps, characterized by muscle pain and spasms, are the earliest and mildest heat-related injuries. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should stop activity, move to shade, and drink something — preferably juice or water with 1/2 pack of salt or a sports drink.

Heat exhaustion is the next step and should be treated early, Vender said. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, headache, weakness, clumsiness, and muscle cramps.

Anyone experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion should rest in shade, loosen clothing and remove headgear, and drink no more than two quarts of water in one hour. Evacuate/seek medical attention if the person's condition does not improve within half an hour.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and needs immediate treatment, Vender said. Convulsions and chills, vomiting, confusion, aggressive behavior, and unconsciousness are among the symptoms. Call 911 immediately if a Soldier or civilian is experiencing these symptoms.

Strip the victim of clothing, rapidly cool him or her with ice sheets, and continue cooling the person during evacuation. The same person should stay with the victim during this process so that any changes in behavior are brought to medical personnel's attention immediately.

Work/rest cycle and fluid replacement charts are available through the Installation Safety Office and the U.S. Army Public Health Center.

Wildlife biologist David Beckmann with the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch spoke about some of the wildlife and hazardous plants that can be found on Fort McCoy. Poison ivy and poison sumac are both common on the installation, Beckmann said, both of which cause rashes and blisters if a person touches the leaves or stems. Wild parsnip is less common and found mostly in ditches along the highways. Wild parsnip only causes a reaction if the stem is broken, but the sap causes chemical burns and blisters when exposed to the sun. It's important to learn what these species look like and avoid them, Beckmann said.

Some of the wildlife found on Fort McCoy includes black bears, gray wolves, snakes, badgers, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and skunks, Beckmann said. These creatures are not necessarily hazardous, he said, but the proper precautions should be taken when encountering them.

NRB estimates there are five or six black bears that live and wander throughout the installation. The bears are more afraid of humans than humans are of them, Beckmann said, but they are interested in human food and can be attracted by open dumpsters and unsecured garbage cans.

Most bears will avoid conflict and will leave if they know humans are in the area, Beckmann said. "The biggest thing is when they are with cubs," he said. "You don't want to get between the cub and the bear."

People can be especially alarmed by snakes. "None of the snakes on Fort McCoy are poisonous," Beckmann said. And all snakes found on post are protected species; any snakes encountered on Fort McCoy should be left alone.

Gray wolves and badgers are also secretive and reclusive, but badgers can be very territorial and aggressive when provoked, Beckmann said. "Do not approach or disturb a badger," he said. If one has moved too close to a building or training activities, call the DPW Work Reception Center/Help Desk at 608-388-4357 and request to have it removed.

With the high training population moving through in August, Vender said it was important to remind Soldiers about the amnesty program.

The Ammunition and Explosive (A&E) Amnesty Program is intended to ensure recovery of military A&E items, but it is not intended to circumvent normal turn-in procedures.

Drop-off locations are located at the Central Vehicle Wash Facility, Integrated Tactical Training Base Liberty, Integrated Tactical Training Base Freedom, the Ammunition Supply Point, and the Fort McCoy Leadership Reaction Course.

Small-arms ammunition that is .50 caliber or smaller can be dropped off at these points. Soldiers or civilians who find larger ammunition or explosives on post should not move them and should instead contact the Fort McCoy Police Department at 608-388-2000.

Questions about the amnesty program can be directed to Jasen Alexander with the Logistics Readiness Center at 608-388-3604 or Vender at 608-388-6449.

Questions about safety at Fort McCoy can be directed to the Installation Safety Office at 608-388-3403.