Commentary - Supporting Darwin's theory through bad decisions

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Cody Sturgeon
  • 99th Air Base Wing Ground Safety
Naturalist Charles Darwin stated the theory about how only the fittest species survive and others who are unable to adapt, die out through natural selection. Every day our fellow man solidifies this fact through ignorant acts.

Here's a look at some examples of mishaps that could have been avoided if a little forethought and situational awareness had been applied.

Two teens, out with some friends at a local hangout, decided it would be fun to dance on a mostly empty fuel tank after having a few drinks. "There were several ignition sources," according to the sheriff. Teenagers were smoking and there was a bonfire nearby. The vigorous movements of the dancers caused fumes to leak from the relief valve, and an ignition source sparked a "flash" as the crude oil storage tank exploded, hurling two teens 150 yards to their deaths.

A 29-year-old man was driving on the highway when his car crossed into oncoming traffic and hit head on with a large SUV. The occupants of the SUV were the only ones not seriously injured. Highway Patrol officers found the 29-year-old's laptop was still running and plugged into the car's cigarette lighter. Investigators believe that he was using it when his car crossed the center line.

Now you may be saying to yourself, "I could never be that dumb;" but every day someone like you and me are severely injured or killed thinking the same thing. I say to you, "Why risk it when you have tools such as Operational Risk Management and Personal Risk Management, better known as the ACT method?" Below is a brief description of both.

ORM is a decision-making tool used by people at all levels to increase operational effectiveness by anticipating hazards and reducing the potential for loss, thereby increasing the probability of a successful mission or task. ORM is a closed-loop process of identifying and controlling hazards. It is guided by four principles:

- Accept no unnecessary risk
- Make risk decisions at the appropriate level
- Accept risk when benefits outweigh the costs
- Integrate ORM into Air Force Doctrine and planning as all levels

Personal Risk Management, the ACT method, is a condensed and simplified version of the ORM process. ACC created the ACT method so you and I could have an easy to remember process to mitigate hazards in our off-duty lives. ACT stands for:

A - Assess the environment to limit risk.
C - Consider the options to limit risk.
T - Take appropriate action

Will ORM and ACT prevent all hazards? No, but they will significantly reduce the risk of serious injuries or worse, death. So to quote GI Joe, "Knowing is half the battle!"