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Whistle pig pancakes

Posted 8/9/2012   Updated 8/8/2012 Email story   Print story


Commentary by 1st Lt. David Liapis
366th Fighter Wing

8/9/2012 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- If you've been here during the spring months, you've undoubtedly seen thousands of tiny ground squirrels, affectionately known as "whistle pigs," running across the roadways.

In many cases though, the unfortunate rodents don't quite make it all the way to the other side before becoming "whistle pig pancakes." Not a savory thought?

What's even less pleasant to think about is what it would be like to experience something similar because your situational awareness while on a road run was hindered by some tunes being pumped into your ears.

Not that you're going to become an "Airman pancake," unless, of course, the vehicle you meet is a 10,000 pound forklift, but the results can still be devastating. That is why the Air Force has created a policy in Air Force Instruction 91-207 that applies to "All persons at any time on an AF installation, includ[ing] all leased, owned or privatized property, including housing areas."

The AFI states, "Wearing portable headphones, earphones, cellular phones, iPods, or other listening and entertainment devices (other than hearing aids) while walking, jogging, running, bicycling, skating or skateboarding on roadways is prohibited..."

"Great! Running just became that much more (fill in the blank)," you might be thinking. "Why does the Air Force have to make doing physical training so difficult?"

The AFI answer is that the "Use of listening devices impairs recognition of emergency signals, alarms, announcements, approaching vehicles, human speech, and outside noise in general."

Whether it's somebody's wayward pooch nipping at your heels without your knowledge until your leg becomes lunch, or a distracted driver offering you the opportunity to "make like a whistle pig," the simple fact is the increased situational awareness might be what keeps you from an unplanned hospital visit.

"I can't beat feet to the rhythm of my music? Now what?" you might ask.

Most Air Force installations offer a variety of locations where you can safely run and rock at the same time. MHAFB boasts the fitness center running track, the one-mile circuit loop by the Gunfighter Club and miles of paths and sidewalks. Just be sure to remove your earpieces in addition to the usual "looking both ways" when crossing the street.

Running is a must, and for many, so is listening to music while doing so. Just make sure you are doing both safely and in accordance with AFI 91-207. That is, unless you want the chance to learn what it's like to be a flattened ground squirrel.

Contact your wing safety office for more information on this and other ground safety topics.

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