By Emily Yeh, Regional Health Command-PacificNovember 21, 2016
FORD ISLAND, Hawaii (Nov. 21, 2016) -- There is no typical day for anyone at Regional Health Command-Pacific (RHC-P). The military and civilian personnel that make up the organization face multiple challenges providing relief and care for Soldiers, retirees and family members in a safe environment.
Safety is a common theme at RHC-P and it applies to more than patient care. No one in the Army Medicine family wants to see a fellow Soldier or civilian get hurt, making the topic of motorcycle safety an essential part of RHC-P's training toolbox.
As the senior motorcycle mentor, Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Edmondson ensures that motorcyclists in the Pacific region maintain the necessary credentials to safely operate a motorcycle through the motorcycle mentorship program.
"We have approximately 200 motorcycle riders in Alaska, California, Guam, Hawaii, Japan, Korea and Washington State," says Edmondson. "Each location has different laws and requirements. My job is to make sure I emphasize the importance of what safety is, no matter the location."
Motorcycles tend to build friendships among riders because of the common bond and joy of riding a motorcycle. In most places, motorcycle riders greet one another on the road with a subtle wave just to acknowledge that common bond.
"The Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Riders Course does a great job of teaching people how to operate a motorcycle. However, they do not teach people how to operate a motorcycle in traffic," emphasizes Edmondson. "That is what our mentorship program does. We will pair a new rider, with an experienced rider, usually with the same type of motorcycle, in an effort to help them become more comfortable with operating their motorcycle while negotiating traffic."
Unfortunately the joy of operating a motorcycle comes with the risk of injury or death. In fiscal year 2015, the Army saw 26 Soldier fatalities contributed to motorcycle accidents. In fiscal year 2016 that number increased to 34 motorcycle fatalities.
Edmondson and other motorcycle enthusiasts have seen, first hand, that a motorcycle fatality does not only affect the Soldier or civilian involved. It also impacts the victim's family, friends and the team or unit the individual is assigned. When one person is lost, the emotional and personal loss is felt for much longer than a few days.
"My goal, as a mentor, is for Soldiers and civilians to safely enjoy their motorcycle so they return home to their families after every ride. One death is one too many, let alone 34," adds Edmondson.
Senior mentors in the Pacific region conduct quarterly motorcycle safety days. However, in some areas, such as Alaska, a ride may not be feasible during the winter. All personnel are authorized to participate.
As a motorcycle enthusiast, Edmondson has spent the last three years managing and mentoring the safety program. His favorite part is contributing to the mission of making sure each year passes with one less, or no, fatalities or serious motorcycle accidents.