The Risk of Slipping on Ice

  • Published
  • By Col. "Tip" Stinnette
  • 39th Air Base Wing Commander
A guy from Michigan buys himself a brand-new $30,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee for Christmas. He goes down to his favorite bar and celebrates by tossing down a few too many brews with his buddies. The five of them decide to take his new vehicle for a test drive on a duck hunting expedition. They load up the Jeep with the dog, the guns, the decoys and the beer, and head out to a nearby lake. 

Now, it's the dead of winter and of course the lake is frozen, so they need to make a hole in the ice to create a landing area for the ducks. Apparently it's a common practice in Michigan to drive your vehicle onto a frozen lake and to use a stick of dynamite to make a hole in the ice. 

The group is ready and all set up. Their shotguns are loaded with duck pellets, and they have beer, warm clothes, and a hunting dog. Still chugging down a seemingly bottomless supply of six-packs, the group considers how to "safely" dynamite a hole through the ice. 

A little risk analysis if you will ... one of the five buddies comes up with the point that they should explode the dynamite far from where they are standing, and another notes the risk of slipping on the ice while running away from the burning fuse on the stick of dynamite. So they come up with the idea of lighting the fuse and throwing the stick of dynamite as far as they can. After discussing who has the best throwing arm the owner of the new Jeep wins the honor, lights the 20-second fuse with his Zippo, and hurls the stick of dynamite as far as he can. 

Remember the hunting dog ... a Black Labrador, born and bred for retrieving, especially things thrown by his master. As soon as the stick leaves his master's hand, the dog is off and running to do the retriever thing. The five frantic knuckleheads immediately begin hollering at the dog trying to get him to stop chasing the dynamite; but not to be deterred the retriever proudly picks up the stick of dynamite with the burning 20-second fuse and trots back toward his master. In an act of desperation the master grabs his shotgun and fires at his own dog. 

The gun is loaded with duck shot and confuses the dog more than hurts him. Bewildered, the dog continues toward his master, who shoots at man's best friend again. 

Finally, believing that his master had lost his mind, the dog runs for cover under the brand-new Jeep Grand Cherokee. Of course he brings the stick of dynamite with him. The Jeep blows up, and both the dog and the Jeep sink to the bottom of the lake, leaving a large ice hole in their wake. 

It sure is a good thing that they thought about slipping on the ice. Here's my point: risk analysis is a beforehand kind of thing. Risk analysis after a few too many brews with your buddies that results in focusing on reducing the risk of slipping on the ice with a stick of dynamite is going to be questionable at best. 

The majority of alcohol-related incidents are the by-product of no plan or a poorly executed plan. It's all about coming up with a plan with clarity of thought and then following through. 

For me the demise of the Jeep is easy and deserved; the demise of the dog is not. Ensuring freedom's future requires clarity of thought!