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.


 
 

 
colonel-john-richard-boyd

‘An Innovator’s DNA’: Col. John Boyd

Surprisingly, few Airmen have heard of Col. John Boyd, with far fewer aware of his innovative contributions to the advancement of modern-day air power. As the Air Staff feverishly reviews the thousands of innovative ideas submi...
 
 

Protecting your possessions while on vacation

Somewhere in southern Sicily a man at a remote café sighs, refreshed after a day of climbing hills, thanks to his new black support socks. Opposite him, his wife proudly thrusts her shoulders forward to accentuate her red Yoga T-shirt, even though she has the physique of a woman who loves double ladles of crème...
 
 

Investment in Vets produces tomorrow’s leaders

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2014 – The promise of a better tomorrow made to U.S. military veterans of World War II seven decades ago with the signing of the original GI Bill is the same promise the nation is keeping with its newest veterans and their families through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, President Barack Obama said...
 

 

National Safety Month: Preventing vehicle-induced heatstroke deaths

Just because a car isn’t moving doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, in 2013, 43 children died from heatstroke inside vehicles – one of the deadliest years to date. These tragedies can happen to anyone, but are preventable with the proper education and action. This National Safety Month, the National Safety...
 
 

VA releases results of nationwide audit

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released the results from its Nationwide Access Audit, along with facility level patient access data, medical center quality and efficiency data, and mental health provider survey data, for all Veterans health facilities. Full details were made public at VA.gov, June 9, following Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson’s...
 
 

Safety month focuses on unintended injuries

Itasca, IL – June is National Safety Month, and the National Safety Council (NSC) is calling on Americans to take notice of the fifth leading cause of death – unintentional injuries. Every four minutes someone in the U.S dies from an unintentional injury. That’s 120,000 people a year. Sixty-seven percent of all injury-related deaths in...
 




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