Protective equipment prevents loss of life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Torri K. Larson
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
"It was a nice day out," said Staff Sgt. Jeffery McNally, 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics specialist. "I woke up, changed the front breaks on my bike because I didn't like the way they felt earlier. I got ready like I usually do: put on my leathers, helmet and boots, all the good stuff and headed out on a drive." 

What Sergeant McNally didn't know, was the impact his "usual" step of donning protective gear would have on the rest of his afternoon. 

"I decided to take a road I hadn't ridden before," he said. During the ride, Sergeant McNally's bike began to drift into the opposite lane, straight at an oncoming car, and when he tapped on his newly changed front breaks, his rear tire came up. 

In an attempt to bring the motorcycle back down, Sergeant McNally had to lift up on the front of the bike and try to bring it to the ground and keep it steady. 

"By the time I got the back tire down, I was only about five feet from the car," he said. "I couldn't turn, I had no more outs. Right before I hit the car, I got on the front breaks hard so the back end would come up and I could clear the handle bars." 

Sergeant McNally glanced off the side of the car, did a few somersaults and landed on his knees. He cracked his right knee-cap and is awaiting a magnetic resonance imaging on his left. 

"When the paramedics came, they cut off my leathers, checked out my knee and, because I hit the car going about 55 miles per hour, they put me on a board in case of a neck or back injury. I definitely came out unscathed compared to what it could have been." 

Sergeant McNally attributes his safety to his 13 years of riding experience and, of course, his personal protective equipment. He also has taken the basic and advanced motorcycle safety courses offered by the Air Force. 

"People who are starting out riding need to respect the bike and get something they can handle," he said. "The safety courses teach you the basics on riding but it's mostly practice: keeping your mind clear and knowing the roads you're riding." 

Master Sgt. Lyle "Gill" Gillogly, 48th Fighter Wing Safety Office unit motorcycle coordinator, explained the importance of PPE. 

"If he (Sergeant McNally) hadn't been wearing his PPE, he'd be dead," Sergeant Gillogly said. "People are our greatest asset, it's important for them to protect themselves." 

He said the Air Force requires riders to wear a jacket, full-finger gloves (preferably leather), sturdy over-the-ankle boots and a certified helmet with face protection. 

"Accidents happen," Sergeant McNally said. "There are two types of riders: those who have wrecked, and those who are about to."