By Scott Davis, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Havelock, North CarolinaApril 16, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 16, 2018) - Who needs personal protective equipment? Not me … at least that's what I used to think.
When I was 8 years old, my best friend got a mini-bike for his birthday. I immediately wanted one too. Unfortunately, my mom and dad were just like all the adults in the movie "A Christmas Story." But rather than, "You'll shoot your eye out," all I heard was, "You'll kill yourself."
Years went by and I never got my mini-bike. Once I got married, though, I thought I'd revisit the idea and buy a motorcycle. But now it was my wife (the paramedic) who protested, saying, "No way! Someone won't see you and you'll get killed." For the record, I always thought that argument was a little weak since my job was being a Marine. But still, I didn't get a bike.
Fast forward 20 or so years and retirement was finally on the horizon. So what did I do? Well, I did what any 44-year-old retiring Marine does - I went out and bought a motorcycle! I wanted to do it right, though, so I went through all the rider training, heard all the stories - from the instructors and my wife - and served as a ground safety officer for several different units in the Marine Corps.
I started slowly, at first only riding in my neighborhood. I eventually progressed to riding to work, and then participating in group rides with the guys on the weekends. With each new level, I further built up the motorcycles-aren't-that-dangerous mentality. As I continued to increase my learning, the it-won't-happen-to-me attitude also started rearing its ugly head.
During this time, the Marine Corps was going back and forth on various motorcycle polices, including whether we should be required to wear a riding jacket or just a long-sleeved shirt. The final decision was that a long-sleeved shirt would suffice. Since retiring, I'd worn short-sleeved shirts to work as a contractor on base, but I had to comply with the regulations. Since North Carolina summer mornings can be hot and muggy, I bought a very thin long-sleeved running-type shirt that would satisfy the requirement without causing me to overheat. I figured I could always take off the shirt once I got to work. By now I had gotten so comfortable with my abilities that I was also wearing sneakers, and sometimes shorts, on weekend rides.
One evening while coming home from work, a young girl turned right on red without stopping just as I was turning left against traffic. I collided with her vehicle and was thrown to the ground, my bike landing on top of me. Once paramedics arrived, I was taken to the hospital for treatment. Fortunately, my only injury was a severe case of road rash on my arm.
What saved me from further injuries was the fact that I had just left work. I was wearing safety boots, not as PPE for riding, but as a requirement for my job. I was also wearing gloves because I hadn't had a chance to take them off since leaving the installation. North Carolina has a helmet law, so my head was protected, which is more than I can say for my arm. The thin long-sleeved shirt I was wearing offered little protection from the asphalt, hence the road rash.
So I ask again, "Who needs PPE?" Well, for one, I do. And you do too! I hope this will be a lesson that it can happen to you. The old adage "Dress for the slide, not the ride" is now "tattooed" on my arm. It was a painful lesson I won't soon forget. Keep the shiny side up!
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