Spring is in the air. The energy is amazing, causing us humans to want to more openly experience life’s wonders. Yet with great restraint, the majority are making the COVID-19 required sacrifices in a communally insular fashion. While this virus mitigation can be metaphorically suffocating, it is refreshing to see camaraderie that is evolving.

With an appreciation for the greater good, we are empowering others and ourselves in a recognition that we all are breathing. We know our positivity, conformity and self-discipline are making a difference.

Each day brings challenges anew. What seems more absurd and incomprehensible happens the next day. Yet, while we silently soldier on with perseverance our greatest, risk is complacency. While it is natural to compartmentalize and become de-sensitized, this is when we must perk up, give a nod, make energetic eye contact. We are all in the together.

We are all now veterans of this humanitarian crisis. Let’s learn from others and be vigilant. Leadership is discovered in the details. By following the basics of social distancing, being situationally aware and using personal protective equipment (PPE) e.g. face coverings, we are demonstrating unity and empathy. It is natural to become relaxed in the face of chronic fatigue; yet, we must now avoid complacency.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of complacency is self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. When it comes to safety, complacency can be dangerous.

In 1996, I was deployed to Bosnia as a safety officer for the 1st Armored Division. During our time as Task Force Eagle, we drove our vehicles millions of miles and flew our aircraft for thousands of hours. We totaled vehicles, rolled tanks and bruised helicopters. Indeed, we walked away on all but two occasions as a result of leadership and PPE countermeasures.

Having arrived in December, by September the entire force was tired. Early in the month, a small cavalry unit, performing a reconnaissance mission, deliberately left an approved road. Two of four vehicles were impacted by the explosion of an anti-tank mine. This mine strike was completely avoidable. The individuals involved in this incident were victims of a routine mission mindset that lead them to become too comfortable with their surroundings. Had it not been for the Kevlar blankets in their vehicles, the injuries would have been more serious. This comfort level could have cost them their lives. There is no doubt that those involved will think about this possibility.

PPE is never glamourous, and the use of face coverings always seems burdensome. While no self-respecting soldier wants to use a Kevlar blanket, countermeasures work.

Mr. Lyle is a veteran of the U.S. Army and a resident of South Russell Village.

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