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NEWS | April 24, 2015

Motorcycle season kicks off at JB Charleston

By Trisha Gallaway 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Joint Base Charleston Safety Office officially kicked-off the motorcycle riding season April 24, 2015 with a Motorcycle Safety Briefing at the Joint Base Charleston Theater, S.C., followed by a bike judging competition and a ride out to the Navy's Short Stay in Goose Creek.  

More than 100 Airmen and civilians turned out for the briefing where topics such as personal protective equipment, different levels of training and local riding hazards were covered.

Also in attendance were Col. Jimmy Canlas, 437th Airlift Wing vice commander; Chief Master Sgt. Chris Robinson, 437th Maintenance Group chief enlisted manager and Chief Master Sgt. Rob Valenca, 628th Mission Support Group chief enlisted manager, all three happen to be motorcycle riders. 

"Thank you for coming out day, this is an awesome opportunity to get together and kick off the riding season," said Canlas as he addressed the crowd.

Robinson reminded everyone that the day is not just about fulfilling an Air Force Instruction requirement.

"This is about safety, this is about AFI requirements, but it's also about having fun," he said. "Riding a bike is supposed to be fun."

Robinson also reiterated that while riding a motorcycle is fun, it can also be dangerous.

"You don't have to be doing 110 miles-per-hour down the road to come close to ending your life," he said. "Enjoy yourself and be safe."

After wing leadership addressed the group of motorcycle riders, Jim McMurray, the JB Charleston Motorcycle Safety coordinator began the briefing by conveying to the riders that they should already know what personal protective equipment they are required to wear while riding their bike. 

Service members who decide to ride their bike on base must abide by the guidelines and should be wearing the following PPE: a Department of Transportation, Snell or ECE approved helmet; eye protection; a long sleeved shirt or jacket; long trousers; full-fingered gloves; and sturdy over the ankle footwear.

McMurray also stressed that continued training is how riders develop and maintain riding skills along with building their confidence.

"It used to be that you only had to take the basic rider course and you were done," he said. "You are now required to take the intermediate training ideally within 60 days, but no later than one year after you take the your initial course."

A refresher training course is also offered.

"The refresher course is required at least every five years for the Air Force and every three years for Navy," said McMurray. "My recommendation is to take the course every year."

McMurray also talked to the group of riders about the importance of making sure they are registered in the Air Force Motorcycle Unit Safety Tracking Tool, which allows the Air Force to maintain a current roster of those Airmen who are riding motorcycles on base.

Local driving conditions such as bridges, animals and weather were also discussed.

"What do you do if a squirrel runs in front of your motorcycle?" McMurray asked the crowd.

A resounding "run it over" echoed from the crowd. 

"Don't risk your life for that little tree rat," said McMurray.

When discussing the Air Force's 2014 motorcycle mishaps, McMurray noted the Air Force was actually down in numbers. 

Unfortunately, out of the 13 Class A Mishaps in 2014, "One of those fatalities was here at Joint Base Charleston," he said.

Air Force-wide, there were three Class B Mishaps, which resulted in one rider losing a foot, a second having partial paralysis to their right arm and shoulder and the third rider now suffers from a traumatic brain injury.

There were also 206 Class C mishaps, which are categorized as injuries that are non-fatal.

Before heading out on the ride to Short Say, Capt. Jeffrey Phipps from the Ashley River Fire Department gave riders a few pointers on what information they need to carry on them in the event of an accident.

"I'm here to talk to you today from the first responder point of view, and how we deal with folks when they fall."

Phipps told the riders when first responders are called to the scene of an accident; they are not looking at your phone to see who they need to call.

"We are looking for information about you," he said, "because you are the most important person to us at that moment. Keep something on you that identifies important medical history. That helps us more than any contact information." 

During the safety brief, Canlas, Robinson and Valenca judged the more than 100 motorcycles entered in the Bike Judging Competition. Winners in the four categories were Chris Robin (Cruiser), 437th Maintenance Squadron; U.S. Navy LT Peter McLaughlin (Commander's Choice), 628th Mission Support Group/Naval Support Activity; Master Sgt. James Ferguson (Custom Bike), 437th Operations Support Squadron; and Marcus Perkins (Sport Bike), 315th Airlift Wing.

Note: The Annual Motorcycle Safety Brief is required by AFI 91-207, The Air Force Traffic Safety Program, paragraph for all Active Duty Air Force motorcycle riders. All other service members, retirees, and dependents are highly encouraged to attend.