Monday, June 28, 2010

It Happens

While on a safari drive vacation in Tanzania there was a day which confirmed a safety paradigm about most injuries occurring away from work.

Our group was in a four wheel drive vehicle viewing cheetahs, wildebeests, gazelles and the like when our driver entered a marshy area and made a mistake. As the muddy situation became apparent he did a Simama (stop in Swahili) instead of a Twende (let’s go!) and our vehicle slogged to a stop.

Of course the four Africans and I did a JSB (job safety briefing, in a mixture of English, Swahili and Maasai) before we broke out the bush jack, spare tire, shovels, chain and various tree limbs that were around. An hour later we faced the reality that there was just no safe way for us to un-mire the vehicle. With a smile and a shrug of the shoulders I told them “It happens.” They smiled, added two more letters in front of my phrase, and then called for a back up recovery vehicle as we piled into the two other vehicles that had not made the mistake.
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About two kilometers down the muddy track one of the vehicles lost a rear wheel and of course we did an immediate Simama. Another mixed language JSB and gwe carefully jacked up the vehicle in the mud, put back on the wheel and tightened all lug nuts we could find, all the way round. We did another “It happens” with extra letters and headed off for another kilometer before the same vehicle got off track and ended up high centered over a Hyena borough. And another opportunity for a mixed language JSB and another “It happens” with extra emphasis and off we went the final 3 “klicks” to camp.

Once in camp the five of us held a lessons learned session about our last two hours of vehicle challenges with the aid of a bottle or two of African brew. I then called for a 20 liter (5 gallon bucket) shower to wash off all the nutrient rich mud that makes the Savannah (grass lands) grow so richly in the Serengeti (endless plains). After all there have been untold centuries of zebras, gnus, lions, etc., that have fully fertilized all the mud we dug ourselves out of this day.

Yes “It happens” events can occur wherever you are. Don’t rush into actions that can get you, your family, or your associates hurt when a few minutes of pre-planning are all that it takes to stay injury free. You truly need this kind of never ending personal safety culture no matter where you find yourself on this planet because you just don’t know where or when an “It happens” moment will occur.

The Doc

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