Critical days, critical choices

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Richard A. Parsons
  • ACC Command Chief Master Sergeant
Have you ever heard of a person breaking a leg or losing their life while playing a game of chess?

Let's face it, some things in life are more dangerous than others, but we cannot stop living. I am as adventurous as the next guy. I have jumped out of planes, kayaked rivers, hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail, been water skiing and the list goes on and on. But one thing is for sure ... I always think about my family. Safety is all about choices, risk mitigation and service before self.

Bad choices lead to sad situations! What makes a choice bad? When we fail to take into account the risk and the potential results of our decision before we execute a plan. I do not think Airmen who face vehicular homicide charges set out to end up in that situation. I think they never stop to think about the results of their decisions and choose to act in spite of what they have been taught. Many may even think that "those things" only happen to other people. Many overestimate their abilities to handle the risk. But ask anyone who has faced devastating circumstances and they will tell you they wish they had a do over.

A key to adventurous activity and everyday living is risk mitigation. Determining the acceptable level of risk that is worth a certain activity is not that hard, but it takes forethought. You know how excited you get when you get the chance to do something you love -- for me it's fishing. It's about thinking of others before self.

There are many things I would love to try that are simply not worth the risk; things that I would get a rush from but would require a level of risk that I am not willing to accept because of my family. I would love to own and ride a motorcycle, but for me the risk is not worth the reward. I would prefer to give myself the best chance to be available for my family. Let's face it ... the chances of a life-changing injury or death increase dramatically on a motorcycle versus in a car or truck. Even if you are a safety-conscious person doing all the right things the level of risk is always there.

That leads me to my main thought about safety; it is all about service before self. I choose to make the decisions that will provide me the best chance to be present for my family, my friends and my coworkers. You see, the decision to operate a motor vehicle without proper safety equipment or under the influence of a drug is a violation of the agreement I have made to my family, friends and coworkers. As a husband and father I made a promise to love and support my family. As an Airman I made a promise to never falter, fail or leave a comrade behind. Your family needs you and the Air Force needs you; so live out the core value of service before self as it relates to safety.