Memorial Day 2016

Memorial DayWelcome to Memorial Day weekend 2016, the official start of summer, especially here in Minnesota. 

It’s also time we honor veterans and those who have served our country, many of us also use this time to honor others that have gone before us.
This led me to think about some of the cases in my career that have stayed in my mind. Many of them were senseless, preventable tragedies. When people ask me about my job and the things that really got to me, these are the stories that come to mind. So, this post is to honor them and do my little part to make something positive come of such tragedies, prevention.

The first thing that comes to mind is bicycle helmets. Riding around my neighborhood, I see only about 40-50% of people wearing helmets. When I see a family out, and the kids have helmets but not the parents, the (morbid) thought that comes to mind it, “Oh, what cute orphans they will be.” It breaks my heart as I think back to all the life altering head injuries I have seen. So please, always wear your helmet, encourage others to wear theirs and make it “not an option” for your kids.

Head injuries are the main cause of death and serious injury in bicycle crashes and drive significant medical spending, not to mention suffering.

Also, remember, helmets aren’t just for cycling. Remember to wear them while skateboarding, roller-blading and other sports. If I am going up on a ladder to do something, I wear it then too!

Memorial day weekend is also the beginning of water season, especially here in Minnesota, boating, paddle boarding, swimming, kayaking, and the list goes on.

I’ve taken care of too many drowning and “near drowning” victims. Always a tragedy and almost always preventable. Just the other day I was biking (wearing my helmet) down by Lake Minnetonka. A nice, warm day, three people paddle boarding. Everything was beautiful except: no one was wearing a personal flotation device, including what looked like about a 10-year-old girl. I could hear the excuses (do you have voices in your head like that!!), “they’re not far from the shore,” “it’s not that deep” etc . However, none of those excuses take into account panic, cold water, falling, hitting your head and getting knocked out, or having a medical emergency such as an asthma attack or seizure. Same thing on a boat, in addition, there are crashes and often alcohol. I know it is not the cultural norm to wear them on a boat, but, last year we lost a swimming instructor to drowning after a boat crash. So please, always wear a personal flotation device when on the water (and when around the water for kids that aren’t strong swimmers).

It’s summer, people are busy, and I think the level of activity and distraction are increased. So be extra careful, watch for those bicyclers, motorcycles, Prezzys Manattriding motorcycle, and don’t text and drive come all the usual safety first recommendations.

A quick note on carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide isn’t only a problem in winter. Be aware, particularly in the back of old boats. Last summer, a young girl was feeling kind of sick with a headache and nausea while on a boat. She laid down in the cabin, and died shortly thereafter. She succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. Her “illness” was actually carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s a relatively rare occurrence so people forget about it. So keep it in the front of the back of your mind.

Power tools. Without getting into detail on this post, just remember safety, wear your eye and ear protection, and remember, beer comes after power tools not before.

I would be remiss in not mentioning alcohol. Alcohol is a factor in many acts of stupidity, it’s not required, but it is a common feature. Be aware of your alcohol use and how it impacts your decision making abilities. Don’t be like the woman I saw who had a couple beers, went up on the tree with a chainsaw and cut off the branch she was standing on.

Every party needs a pooper and I think that often times it seems to be me. However, my wish is for you to have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. I’ll be riding my bike on the North shore of Lake Superior, with helmet and lights on! Peace to you.