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Never underestimate the importance of safety

Keynote speaker emphasizes safety at and away from work
Tony Crow, Environmental Seminar
Motivational speaker Tony Crow of Winnsboro, Texas was at the Estevan Saskatchewan Energy Training Institute, where he shared his story about losing his eyesight and the importance of safety at work and at home.

He wore his safety glasses religiously for 26 years without any problems, but it was the day he decided not to wear them during a hunting expedition that tragedy struck.

Motivational speaker Tony Crow of Texas was at the Saskatchewan Energy Training Institute as the keynote speaker during the Southeast Environmental and Safety Seminar. Capping off a day filled with liability management information, high voltage safety and other energy related topics, Crow’s message was simple: “It’s not just about me.”

Crow’s In the Blink of an Eye presentation covered safety at work and at home and the number of people tragedy affects, all of which was emphasized by his personal story. Crow lost his eyesight in 2003 while quail hunting with his son, who accidently shot him in the eye. Crow wasn’t wearing safety glasses.

“While recovering in the hospital, my wife had to ask the doctor, ‘Doc, if my husband had been wearing safety glasses would it have blinded him?’ Without hesitation, he said ‘No.’”

Crow said the number of people who supported his family during those difficult times after the accident made him realize accidents affect not only the victim but also everyone in that person’s life.

“My wife told me, ‘if you can help one family from going through a tragedy like this, wouldn’t it be worth it?’ And I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it,’” Crow said, after explaining to the audience his initial reluctance to become a motivational speaker.

Speaking with the utmost confidence and poise, Crow walked the audience through the accident and his new life as a blind man, admitting it was an extremely difficult process, one that was made easier by his leader dog, Rudy.

Crow reminisced about his early days with Rudy, and in particular, an afternoon when he wanted to cross a street. Crow couldn’t hear any cars and wasn’t aware of any trouble. He asked his instructor, who stood a few feet away, why Rudy stopped. There was a puddle on the street, his instructor answered.

“Rudy couldn’t tell if the puddle was this deep, or this deep,” Crow said, motioning with his fingers the varying depths. “I was amazed that they can teach a dog, in one year’s worth of training, to not take chances, and I went to 26 years’ worth of safety meetings and walked outside, rolling the dice hoping it wouldn’t come up with snake eyes.”

Crow said he used to believe in the popular misconception that accidents couldn’t happen away from the workplace. He said it’s why he didn’t wear safety glasses moments before he lost his eyesight.

“If anything were to happen to me, it would happen at work, it would never happen away from work. Why? Because we talk about safety at work, so that must mean that’s the only place that’s dangerous,” he said.

Crow noted hearing is the number one thing taken for granted at work, but stressed it doesn’t take a freak accident for one’s hearing to diminish.

“It’s a long process that you won’t notice until you can barely hear a thing,” he said.

The motivational speaker addressed a popular situation among workers involving new employees pointing out unsafe practices performed by seasoned workers.

Approachability at work should be encouraged, Crow said. It shouldn’t be about getting someone in trouble or being a bully, and if a new worker does see something unsafe, he or she must point it out.

“Tell that person, ‘I’m here because I care about you,’” he said.

Rudy acted as a guide, but more importantly, he was a close friend of Crow’s for nine years. Rudy passed away in 2012 due to cancer.

“Losing Rudy was like losing my eyesight for a second time,” he said.

Crow’s inspirational message filled the auditorium as people listened intently to his successes after losing his eyesight, which included the continued operation of his 125-acre farm with the help of Rudy, shooting a quail without his eyesight, and of course, the formation of INJAM (It's Not Just About Me).

INJAM is a non-profit corporation providing scholarships to high school seniors who have overcome physical, mental or emotional disabilities. It also helps to fund local charities and mission work in and out of the United States.