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NEWS | Feb. 13, 2020

Safety measures critical during weapons qualification

By Sgt. Katherine Ramos 363rd Public Affairs Detachment U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico

Soldiers from the 1st Mission Support Command, U. S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, maximized the use of training hours during their recent battle assembly, while conducting weapons qualification, at the Camp Santiago Joint Training Center, Feb 7-8.

Qualification is the Army standard record of fire used to determine the live-fire proficiency of a Soldier employing the weapon. During this process, Soldiers' safety is always a top priority.

Sgt. 1st Class Francisco Rivera, safety noncommissioned officer in charge, was in charge of monitoring the safety measures implemented during the training event.

"The first consideration is always weather. We did not want any heat casualties, and we are glad to inform that we did not have any," said a proud Rivera.

Rivera followed a very strict safety protocol, which included ensuring every Soldier received a safety brief that included rules of firearms, loading and unloading, firearm handling, and hygiene guidelines. "The other safety consideration is that we are qualifying with live ammo and the last thing we want is a misfired weapon," said Rivera.

During live-fire event that included over 3,500 rounds of ammo with the M-9 pistol and the M-4 assault rifle, safety noncommissioned officers were actively scanning the shooting lanes, providing troubleshooting assistance, and carefully implementing the established safety measures. "The weapons qualification ran pretty smooth, all the units were successfully in conducting a safe event," said Rivera.

Another critical part of any safety plan is having medical support readily available on site.

Spc. William Silva, from the 407th Ground Ambulance Group, U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, explained the unit's role. "Our mission is to provide medical support during today's weapons qualification and to be ready in case of any injuries or heat casualties," said Silva.

As a combat medic specialist, Silva is trained to provide emergency medical treatment on the battlefield, limited primary care, health protection and evacuation, if needed. "In case of a stroke, we are able to provide assistance and evacuate the Soldier quickly," added Silva.

By successfully implementing safety controls on every event, commanders protect the force and enhance war-fighting capabilities through a systematic and progressive process of hazard identification and risk management.