Anemometer | USPA Safety Day
Anemometer | Mar 01, 2022
Anemometer | USPA Safety Day

Albert Berchtold

This month, USPA encourages all members and drop zones to participate in an annual day devoted to all things safety. While USPA Safety Day—which this year falls on March 12—is important, I prefer to think of it as not just a single day but an opportunity to refresh our approach to safety-related topics for the upcoming year. Have there been any new procedures or updates to emergency processes at your local DZ? Does your equipment need any maintenance before the season ramps up? Have you had a chance to review the incident report summaries from last year to learn from the misfortunes of others? When was the last time you reviewed your emergency procedures and decision altitudes? Have you thought about and rehearsed your responses to various low-altitude emergencies?

While we call the 12th of March “Safety Day,” no one day can carry the entire burden of helping us protect ourselves, those around us and the sport as a whole. Jumpers need to approach every day as if it were Safety Day. And the days we forget that are the days when we’ve provided complacency the opportunity to win the battle for our wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us.

So how do we shift from thinking about safety from time to time to having it become part of everything we do? How does it become second nature? Simply put, we embrace safety culture.

What does that mean? If it’s just a buzz word that’s casually tossed around, then it may have little to no impact at your DZ. Safety culture needs become an integral part of the DZ’s makeup. Culture is to a group what personality or character is to an individual. And whether you know it or not, your DZ has one. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s great, but I guarantee there is room for it to improve.

There is much you can learn from those who have failed to apply a safety mindset in the past. From their misfortunes, we can learn and become guides to creating an improved safety culture. These aren’t lessons only for instructors and Safety and Training Advisors; they’re for everyone. After all, we can only change the culture at a DZ with everyone’s involvement. Everyone. From the old farts who have been teaching skydiving for 40-plus years to the young punks who just got their driver’s licenses and are using them to drive to the DZ. We adopt these changes in our jumping lives not only for ourselves, but also for those around us.

After an accident, have you ever heard someone say, “We saw that coming,” or, “We all told him that canopy was too small for him,” or maybe, “I was late for the load so didn’t have time for a gear check”? These comments all describe warning signs that were ignored. Make a vow to never speak these words again. Take action. Whether old or young, seasoned or green, we all play a part. Making that commitment will make the sport safer for you and your friends. I guarantee it.

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