I Can Save My Own Life: A moment in time

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Steve Shinkel
  • 734 AMS
Our lives can often be defined by events which impact us, our families, friends and our coworkers in a positive or negative manner. Sometimes these events occur because of decisions we choose to make or sometimes not make. 

These events can have far reaching and dire consequences, not only to ourselves, but also to those around us and even our Air Force. These events can be thought of as "moments in time" which may define not only your life but your character as well. 

The consequences of these "moments in time" spread out like the ripples from a rock tossed into a pond, impacting those around us, even if we don't want them to. This is aptly demonstrated in a video I recently viewed regarding an Airman who killed two people in a DUI accident in Cheyenne Wyoming. 

The Airman in this video was out drinking with his friends, and they decided to head back to base with a designated driver for the evening. However, once back on base, the Airman decided he wanted to drive back to the bar by himself even though he had been drinking heavily (he failed to make the decision to stay at home). 

The Airman in this case continued drinking until the bar closed and then chose to drive back to the base. On the way back, he ran a stoplight, hit a car and killed two people. 

That one event, that one moment in time, has defined the rest of his life and there is nothing he can do to change that. 

The Airman stated from his prison cell he would give anything to go back in time and change what happened, but he can never restore the lives of the two individuals he killed. He can never replace the time they will miss spending with their families, nor can he take the away the shame and disappointment he has brought upon himself and his family. 

Like the ripples in the pond, the effects from this Airman's choice to drink and drive has impacted not only his life, but the relatives of the people he killed, his own family members and his fellow Airmen whom he brought discredit upon. There is no doubt this Airman regretted what he had done, but it is too late for that. 

You may ask, "Where did the Airman go wrong?" Was it when he failed to stop at the stop light? Was it when he decided to get into his truck after going back out to drink? I will argue he went wrong when he failed to make a prior plan with his wingman and then stick to it. Once he chose to go back downtown, he had failed, and this failure culminated in the deaths of two innocent people. 

The lessons above highlight the importance of understanding the consequences of the decisions you chose to make or fail to make. If you decide to go out drinking without a plan or chose not to stick with your game plan, then you have failed. 

Once you get pulled over for DUI, or hurt or kill someone or yourself, that moment has now defined you and no amount of wishing will ever change the impact from that moment in time. Once this happens, you have put your future in someone else's hands. The right time to do the planning is before heading downtown and then stick to the plan. 

What happened to the Airman above illustrates the importance of Team Andersen's "I can save my own life" campaign, because each of us is important, our family and friends love us, and our nation is depending on us to keep them safe. You must think about the consequences of your actions before you act so you won't have to say, "I could've, would've or should've saved my own life or one of my fellow Airman's," because these moments in time may define you in a manner you don't want and you can never change. 

You and your family will have to live with consequences of your actions, if you are lucky enough to survive.