1. Welcome to the latest edition of the Summary of Mishaps. This week we help kick off our annual summer safety campaign by reviewing a few lowlights from last summer that the people involved would like to forget.
A. Before getting down to specifics, here’s a quick overview, based on my statistically significant technique of doing word searches for things that pop into my head on the spur of the moment. Sixty mishap reports involved softball and 38 involved soccer. Fourteen Sailors and Marines were hiking when they got hurt, and 20 were riding bicycles. Grass and gravel each figured into 29 reports, which has a certain symmetry (it ended up a tie after I tossed out a gravel-related mishap because the guy who hurt himself was shoveling it, not testing its traction). Note that 12 motorcycle riders and 2 dirtbike riders were in the gravel category.
B. In Ohio, an E-6 climbed onto his roof to check for storm damage. Complication #1: He spied a wasp nest and decided to knock it down before proceeding with his damage check. He tried using a long, extendible pruning saw. Complication #2: The curved blade made it hard to reach the nest, so he held the blade and knocked down the nest with the handles. Complication #3: The wasps, wondering what the heck, came out to investigate. Alarmed, he dropped the saw, preparatory to evacuating the scene, but in so doing he lopped off a piece of his pinky.
C. An E-5 was in his back yard with some friends and a weapon. The friends were fine, the latter questionable, especially because it was a half-hour before midnight. He got distracted while talking and trying to clear his pistol. When he noticed a magazine on the ground, he figured it was his. Did he check? No, unless you count aiming the pistol at his hand and pulling the trigger. His wound put him on light duty for 18 days.
D. Another summer Not-O.K. Corral was in North Carolina, where an E-7 shot himself in the hand with his 9 mm. He missed 40 days of work, then spent 18 days on light duty. The “weapon discharged,” the report said. By itself? Under “Activity Engaged In,” the report said “Sleeping.” Why must these reports be so mysterious?
E. In our “Do It (To) Yourself” department, a corporal was in his garage dealing with a dead battery. He asked a neighbor for help, then worked on getting his car out of the garage. First, he pushed it from the front and got it rolling. Then he ran around back to stop it. Not sure what the neighbor was doing at the time, but the neighbor’s house helped by stopping the car. Alas, the corporal was in between the car and the house. Broken leg. Neighbors called 911, the report said. Why hadn’t one of them climbed in the car and put a foot on the brake?
F. In Texas, an ensign sprained his ankle “while tubing,” the report said. He may have been tubing, but he got hurt jumping from a rope swing and banging his ankle on a submerged rock. Maybe when you’re tubing, you should stick to tubing. Or tube over the area you plan to jump into and check the depth. When they say “look before you leap,” they weren’t talking about murky water. And that brings us to an E-3 who was fishing at a reservoir. He also did his best to break an ankle by trying to climb a 15-to-20-foot cliff by the water, then falling off. Maybe when you go fishing you should stick to fishing.
PS – If you know of a place where the fishing is better from a cliff, I’d like to hear about it.
G. A logistics specialist third class hit the beach with a liberty buddy. Noticing a 30-foot bridge, he decided to do a back flip off of it into the water. This would be hunky-dory, he figured, because back flips from the height of a 3-story building weren’t specifically listed in the local “high-risk recreational activities” notice, plus the water was 20 feet deep. High risk or not, he spronged his groin.
H. And since I never miss a chance to include a golf cart, an E-8 command duty officer was doing his rounds when one jumped a curb and plowed into him. He ended up on light duty for 41 days. The cause of this mishap, the report said, was “mechanical component failure.” Did it specify which component? No. Nor did it explain what the driver of the golf cart had been doing. So we don’t know if he had been chasing an errant five iron, chasing the beverage cart, or doing some work.
J. In North Carolina, a civilian supply tech ran out to her car during a rain storm to get her lunch. She ducked her head. Whether this actually helps you avoid raindrops is open for debate. It definitely did not help her avoid the loading ramp on a delivery truck, on which she conked her forehead hard enough to black out for a minute. The paramedics said she seemed OK (wet, but OK), and she opted to go back to work. The next morning, however, she had to visit an E.R. because her eye was swollen and she had a shiner.
K. An aviation electrician’s mate second class went running on a trail in a park near her home in California. She finished up her run with what the report called “a trek up a hill,” which in my experience is bad enough, even when you don’t find a rattlesnake blocking the trail. The E-5 reversed course so quickly that she fell, cutting her knee, bruising her ribs and straining her elbow.
Speed work: good. Speed work motivated by fangs and venom: not so good. Your heart rate should already be high enough.
L. In California, an E-5 from an amphib was riding his motorcycle down a highway. When he turned left, his left pant leg tangled in the chain. He looked down to see what the problem was and tried to untangle himself. This distraction caused him to slide into a dirt driveway (perhaps the same driveway that he could have pulled into on purpose and under control). He crashed into a curb and got ejected, collecting the standard sprains, strains and tears to multiple body parts.
M. Running out of space here, so I’m not going to be able to tell you about the seaman recruit who ended up with a headache after getting kicked in the head three times during remedial swim lessons. Or about the E-1 who fell on his face after (he said) falling asleep during a 12K conditioning march. He hadn’t slept well because he was (correctly) afraid of getting dropped from the course after flunking the rifle range portion the day prior. Or about the E-2 who was hopping on and off a sidewalk during a PT run, “trying to motivate” other runners. He strained his hamstring. These and other stories will have to await a future issue.
2. Have a great summer! Aim for those memories that make you smile, not wince.
May 2013 #3: Why the E-3 Was (Correctly) Nervous About Jumping Off a Cliff
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Last Reviewed: May 24, 2013