Last line of defense

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

Preventative actions can be taken to stay out of harm’s way. In some instances though, being cautious isn’t enough.

Car accidents occur frequently and being inside a vehicle adds an extra layer of protection, but motorcyclists involved in vehicular accidents is another story.

Recently, such an accident occurred at an intersection just outside the gate of Malmstrom Air Force Base involving several vehicles and a motorcyclist.

A distracted driver crashed into another vehicle, causing that vehicle to roll toward a motorcyclist, a contractor working at Malmstrom, while waiting at a stoplight. The individual on the motorcycle didn’t have enough time to react and took the impact of the oncoming vehicle.

As one car crashed into him from behind, he was launched onto the hood of another vehicle, subsequently slamming his head on the vehicle and crushing his forearm on the other.

These types of accidents could result in serious injuries and possibly a trip to the hospital, but this individual was able to walk away from the accident with only minor injuries thanks to use of proper personal protective equipment.

Among his protective equipment was a helmet, gloves and a protective padding jacket, to which he owes credit for his safety in this accident.

What is personal protective equipment?

“Personal protective equipment is what is considered in the safety world as the last line of defense,” said Dean Jones, 341st Missile Wing Safety Office occupational safety manager. “PPE is any form of protective equipment designed to help protect an individual from injury.”

What PPE should motorcyclists use?
All Air Force military personnel at any time and all on-duty civilian personnel, on or off a Department of Defense installation will comply with Air Force Instruction 91-207 (The US Air Force Traffic Safety Program.)
All motorcyclists on base will wear:
  • A helmet, certified to meet current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 218 specified by the Department of Transportation properly fastened under the chin.
  • Goggles, wrap-around glasses or a full-face shield designed to meet or exceed American National Standards Institute Standard Z87.1.
  • A long-sleeved shirt or jacket, long trousers and full-fingered gloves or mittens is required. Gloves or mittens will be made from leather or other abrasion-resistant material.
  • Sturdy over-the-ankle footwear that affords protection for the feet and ankles.
On or off base, military personnel are required to wear the same equipment they wear on base.
Off base, civilian personnel are not required to wear the base’s mandated equipment but must comply with local requirements for motorcyclists. 

What is the importance of PPE?

“It could save your life in a life-threatening scenario,” said Jones. “Though it’s not fail-safe, there are going to be individuals who have all their PPE on but certain circumstances could still render injuries. However, your chances of survival increase dramatically when wearing PPE.”

Additional information regarding PPE can be found in AFI 91-207 or through alternate sources such as the base safety office or a supervisor.