MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Combat Center’s Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, one of the largest military occupational schools in the Department of Defense, developed a unique approach to motorcycle, vehicle and road safety training.
During the MCCES annual safety fair Oct. 22, the typical “death by PowerPoint” instructional period was replaced with a mixture of education and entertainment to keep young Marines’ heads in the game as they prepared to enjoy their weekend.
The fair included stunt motorcycle shows, a classic car show, presentations on safety from local law enforcement and education about safer drinking procedures.
“The fair got started four years ago,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Fulgium, the school’s safety chief. “Being in other units in the fleet and always being so bored with the safety briefs, [we] decided something had to change.
“There’s no way [static presentations] are effective at all,” said the Neodesha, Kan., native. “Their minds start to wander, and they fall asleep.”
Fulgium said the benefits of the show were almost immediately noticeable.
“Good luck falling asleep during the safety fair,” he said. “They may not be thinking safety right off the bat, but the stunts and vendors definitely keep them engaged the entire time.”
Students not only received stunning shows and demonstrations from law enforcement, they also had access to many presentations – fencing being one of the most popular. Fulgium added this year’s fair was highly anticipated, as always, but the throng of pipeline students was more into it than ever. “Pipeliners” are Marines fresh from graduating basic and Marine Combat Training and are typically years younger than seasoned Marine students who are attending the school for additional advanced training.
“The student population definitely was looking forward to [the safety fair] this year,” he said. “Many may get to see it two times before they leave. This year, I’d say, the crowd was the loudest they’ve ever been. They really seemed to enjoy it.”
Private First Class Michael Alfonso, a student with Company A, said meeting the riders and learning about their safety gear are among his fondest memories of his short time in the Corps yet.
“It was great meeting the riders, seeing their stuff and interacting with them,” said the Phoenix native. “Bikes have always been really popular back home, so naturally I’m looking at getting one.
“I talked to all the riders about their equipment, tips for riding and about starter bikes,” he added. “They were really cool about everything. It’s awesome to get to meet people like that.”
Tony Carbajal, a freestyle motorcycle stunt rider at the safety fair, said, while he enjoys putting on the shows, the people are what drew him here for the fourth time.
“We all love doing the shows here,” said Carbajal, from Riverside, Calif. “The crowd really gets into it, and who better to perform for than those who are out there performing for us?”
Carbajal said he and his fellow riders try to push safety and knowledge as much as the battalion’s safety office.
“The whole show is worth it,” he said. “We always hope our message gets through to even one person. That’s a very worth-while time if we even reach one guy after having an amazing show.”