Sarah Finn Shares Her SH&E Generations Story

Sarah B. Finn is a safety, health and environmental manager, and a member of ASSE’s Greater San Jose Chapter. Here is her SH&E Generations story:

Once a year, I would arrive home from school and find the dining room rearranged, with all of the chairs in the house set up into aisles. I would put down my backpack and take my seat as a “passenger” on my mom’s mock airplane, ready for takeoff.  We would spend the next few hours “in flight,” running through her preflight announcements, safety checks and emergency scenarios in preparation for her annual flight attendant’s Recurrent Emergency Training and test. At the time, I didn’t think much about its importance, I just thought of it as quality time spent with my mom. My mom always expressed to me that her role was not to simply serve coffee, wait on passengers or put their luggage into overhead bins. I realized then that essentially flight attendants are first responders in the sky. They inspect the safety equipment, educate and train the passengers on emergency preparedness, provide first aid, assist passengers in emergencies and are the eyes and ears looking and listening for signs of trouble to communicate to the pilots who are locked away in the cockpit, relying on their instruments and gauges. I took in the experience and appreciated the role of the flight attendants on every airplane that I flew in.

I went through college believing that I would be some sort of educator or teacher so when I entered the workforce, the safety field was far off of my radar.  However, in my first management position as a training supervisor for a leading transportation company, I was assigned to provide new hire training, which included the new hire safety training. Standing in the front of the class, teaching employees the importance of safety, proper methods, use of PPE and more, brought back the fond memory of my childhood experience with my mom, in the dining room of my childhood home. It was then that I realized my passion for safety and began to pursue a career in the SH&E field.

I often think back on my childhood experience fondly, with understanding that although my mom was not an SH&E professional, her commitment to providing a safe environment for the thousands of passengers who flew the friendly skies with her started me down the path that lead me to discover my passion for the field of protecting employee’s safety, health and the environment.