Trauma season begins today

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Robert Stroebel
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing chief of safety
The local area hospitals are getting ready. They are filling shelves with emergency supplies. They are increasing staffing and putting more overtime in the budget.

They are all doing this for you. You green thumbs who are mowing your lawns in flip-flops. You risk takers who are jumping in your boats and loading up your coolers full of beer. You daring souls who are riding your sport bikes without your helmets on.

Yes, the local hospitals will be ready for the inevitable increase in injuries this summer, just like all previous summers. Your job is to make sure the local hospitals do not use any of those supplies on you.

Today marks the beginning of the "101 Critical Days of Summer" safety campaign. The Air Force-wide campaign started in the late 1960's to counter the traditional increase in mishaps and fatalities which occur during the summer months. Our Air Mobility Command Commander, General Arthur Lichte, stated "the most popular time of year is also the most dangerous" during his 2008 Summer Safety message. Especially between May 23 and Sept. 2, just after Labor Day, as we must all use good personal risk management, before we make any decisions which might lead to a mishap.

We'll start in your own backyard. When you dust off that gas grill, don't overlook the possibility of the hose springing a leak during the off-season. You might get a bigger bang than you bargained for when you throw those burgers on the barbecue. While your grill is warming up, don't forget to use some sunscreen and stay hydrated. By the way, alcohol is not a good source of hydration, in fact, it does just the opposite.

After you've had your fill of burgers, you could get some good exercise by taking your lawnmower and trimming that beautiful turf you've been neglecting during the winter months. Make sure you check the oil and air filter, in addition to making sure the blade is sharp. Dull blades make you and the mower work harder and could cause the mower to get jammed with grass, which might make you want to put your hand under it to clean it out ...ouch. Put on some sturdy shoes to mow your lawn and never pull the mower toward you when mowing. Nearly three-quarters of lawnmower related incidents last year happened by pulling the mower over the operator's own foot.

As you make plans for the evening, remember that nothing good ever happens after midnight. Please have a well thought out plan whenever you decide to drink alcohol. Do not include driving in you plan, include a designated driver. Use the "wingman concept" and stick to it. If your plan falls apart, know who to call to enable you to get home safely. On Friday and Saturday nights 759-HOME is an alternative. The Airmen Against Drunk Driving hotline will only ask your first name and your location. They will take you home with no questions asked. Use them.

After you survive the first night of this 4-day weekend, a cruise over to El Dorado Lake is probably in order. Again, do a thorough check of your watercraft and safety equipment before you get on the road. Life preservers, extra paddles, and a weather radio are more important than that big cooler of beer. Two of the 19 AMC fatalities last summer happened on the water.

If you would rather stay off the water and go dirt biking or all terrain vehicle riding, just remember your personal protective equipment. Two of the 19 AMC fatalities last year were due to off-road vehicle mishaps. Sounds like some risk is involved in every decision you will make in order to have fun this summer.

Don't forget to wear your seatbelt on your way to and from your recreational area, as well as every time you get into a vehicle. A number of the eight four-wheel vehicle fatalities last year resulted from being thrown from the vehicle because the occupants did not wear their seatbelts. Poor personal risk management to say the least.

This would not be a good 101 Critical Days article without talking about the number one fatality risk in all of AMC; motorcycle mishaps. We all know the requirements for riding a 2-wheeled vehicle; completion of an approved Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, wearing appropriate PPE including a Department Of Transportation approved helmet, gloves, eye protection, long pants, long sleeved shirt/jacket, and sturdy footwear. The decision to risk it all by speeding around a curve, or showing off by riding on only half of your 2-wheels, or by willfully impairing your judgment by drinking alcohol, cannot be overestimated. Six AMC fatalities resulted from these poor decisions in 2007. Six fellow Airmen died on motorcycles.

Nineteen Airmen did not make it through the Trauma Season in 2007. The hospitals were far too busy last year. Let's keep the emergency supplies on the shelves in 2008. Be your own safety manager this summer.