Commentary

June 22, 2012

They really are ‘out to get you’

by Lt. Col. Michael Onines
386th Expeditionary Support Squadron

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) — When I was first assigned a position to lead people in the Air Force, I was expected to be, among other things, a safety cheerleader, encouraging my team to avoid mishaps and work safely. This was a bit new to me and I found most safety lectures I sat through in the past to be dull and boring, so at some point I adopted a safety motto to help break the ice when introducing topics of discussion. It wasn’t as good as Calvin’s “Be careful, or be roadkill” with patented 3-D gore-o-rama, but whenever I told the team “don’t do stupid stuff,” it garnered a chuckle and we could segue into the topic-du-jour, such as DUI, which I would then classify as doing stupid stuff.

For almost every topic I briefed, be it speeding, riding without a helmet or any of a myriad of things you read in safety reports, I could classify it as doing stupid stuff and warn the team to avoid doing something that stupid. Essentially, my motto described a safety philosophy philosophy that stated, if you didn’t go looking to get hurt by disobeying and ignoring the rules, you would be just fine.

My perspective on safety changed dramatically a few weeks after I returned from a humanitarian mission to Honduras. During my time there, we worked hard to build the foundations of a masonry schoolhouse for a small village. Each day we watched traffic mayhem, as donkey carts, tractor-trailers and a variety of run-down cars jockeyed for position on the highway crossing between our camp and our construction project. For the most part, watching the traffic game was amusing, and we managed to avoid any close encounters.

I rotated back to home-station and two weeks later a close friend from the squadron left to lead her phase of the construction project. One week after her departure, I sat beside her husband while the benefits officer explained what payments he and his children could expect in the future after Captain Palmer had been killed on the roads of Honduras. She died in a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer that veered into her lane when trying to pass another vehicle on a blind curve. After this, safety briefings became more somber, and my catch phrase wasn’t used any more.

It took a year or so before I began briefings with a new motto: “They really are out to get you!” Inanimate objects like barriers, bollards and parked vehicles are hunting your fenders and bumpers. The driving conditions on the roads here are every bit as bad as those in Honduras, or the freeways of southern Italy.

Distracted and aggressive drivers on the roads aren’t watching out for anyone else. If you want to be safe you have to treat everyone on the road as a wreck waiting to happen. Obviously there aren’t any guarantees, and serious accidents can still happen despite our best efforts, but staying aware of what is going on around you and anticipating what could happen are the best we can do to be safe. Good luck out there, and remember, “they really are out to get you!”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
HHM_14_Poster

Hispanic Heritage Month: Knowing the facts

In 1988, Congress established National Hispanic Heritage Month by amending the 1968 law that created National Hispanic Heritage Week. Under this law, the president was asked to issue an annual proclamation designating the “31...
 
 
4-of-11-photo

U.K. cemetery resting place for 452nd men

(Fourth in an 11-part series that was first run in the Beacon in 2007) Thirty men killed while serving in the 452nd Bombardment Group during World War II are buried at an American military cemetery near Cambridge, England. They...
 
 

Comprehensive Airman Fitness: A lifestyle and culture

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Comprehensive Airman Fitness (CAF) is comprised of a multitude of targeted programs and activities as well as resiliency skills taught to enable Airmen to make sound choices. The program’s goal is to build and sustain a thriving and resilient Air Force community that fosters mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness. The new...
 

 

Suicide prevention takes courage, communication, official says

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Veterans Affairs Department has named September National Suicide Prevention Month, but the Defense Department continues its year-round, comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to address the issue of suicide in the military, a Pentagon official said Aug. 21. Army Lt. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, military deputy to the Under Secretary of Defense for personnel...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Megan Crusher

Padres honor Team March Airmen during Air Force Appreciation Day

U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Megan Crusher San Diego Padres second baseman, Jedd Gyorko, greets Senior Master Sgt. Donald Branscum, 1st Sgt., 452nd Civil Engineer Squadron, as he took his position on the field, during the Pa...
 
 

Air Force revamps Air Expeditionary Force

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force will deploy Agile Combat Support (ACS) Airmen under its redesigned air expeditionary force (AEF) construct October 1. The primary purpose of the redesign was to look at ways to deploy more ACS Airmen with their units and standardize dwell times across the Air Force as much as possible to...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin