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How $19.99 saved my life

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Daniel Donnelly
  • 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron
What's your life worth? One-million dollars? Maybe a few hundred thousand? What if I told you something that cost me $19.99 saved my life?

Two years ago, I paid $19.99 for a bicycle helmet and recently its value has surpassed its cost.

I was doing what a lot of us at Osan Air Base do -- riding my bike. I went to work, to the gym and then rode home to my off-base residence.

On this day, at about 2 p.m., the sun was shining brightly as I came across a busy downtown intersection. The green cross light was counting down and I had about five seconds to cross the street. I made it across safely, but was going so fast that I lost control of my bicycle.

Everything happened so fast. I swerved left to miss a person. Then, I went to the right around a bus bench, but despite every effort to avoid all the hazards, my left handle bar clipped a light pole. Striking the pole caused me to fly over my handle bars and land on the ground where I hit my right temple.

I hit the ground so hard I blacked out. When I woke up I started checking my limbs and looking for blood. I had road rash here and there from the fall, but I didn't feel I had any broken bones.

Then, I took off my helmet and found it broken in two, right near my temple.

This is the point where I realized just how important safety gear is, and how much it's worth.

Some people think it's a waste to spend money on safety gear and I have to be honest, I was one of them. This experience taught me that spending a few dollars now could save a lot of pain and suffering later.

Applying some operational risk management to the situation made me realize I would still be wearing that helmet, but I would have waited for the next green light rather than hurrying across the street. Looking at the same traffic light now, I realize there was a lot going on and there were a lot of potential hazards.

On the day of my accident, had I scanned the area a little better and taken a little extra time thinking of what could happen, I would have made a different choice.

Still, $19.99 saved my life.