News: NC Guard soldiers complete NC Highway Patrol Motorcycle Officer Course, will serve as safety instructors for NCNG
Story by Sgt. Mary Junell
RALEIGH, N.C. - Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thomas Anspach and Master Sgt. Robert Baker, both with the North Carolina National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, graduated from the North Carolina Highway Patrol’s Basic Police Motorcycle Officer’s Course in Raleigh, N.C. on Aug. 23, 2013.
Although neither are patrol officers, they are both qualified to teach the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic and Experienced Rider courses offered to North Carolina Air and Army Guard members free of charge.
The soldiers training opportunity came from the partnership between the NCNG and NCHP that formed when the Guard’s motorcycle safety program was started in 2005.
"Since the State Highway Patrol and North Carolina National Guard are both agencies of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, establishing a mutual agreement was rather simple,” said Army Col. John Mullinax, safety and occupational health manager for the North Carolina National Guard.
“Since 2005 we have never had to pay for the space and in exchange we allow Troopers to attend our courses for the same fee as our guardsmen, which is free.”
The course uses data gathered from reviews of motorcycle accidents to develop the program. These experiences teach the officers how to avoid the circumstances that leads to accidents.
“By completing the Motor Officer training they will be taking their understanding of motorcycle handling to an entirely new level,” Mullinax said. “This training teaches you how to ride safely under the hazardous and changing conditions which are encountered daily on our streets and highways.”
Course Instructor State Highway Patrol Sgt. Mike Conwell, with the Special Operations Division, Motorcycle Unit in Charlotte, N.C., described the training as humbling.
“On the first day students always show up and tell me they can ride a motorcycle and they can drive it,” Conwell said. “But, by mid-day Monday of the first week, they change their tune.”
Students in the course must pass each section with a grade of 90 percent or higher to stay in the class and graduate. After the first week, they were tested on what they had learned so far by completing a timed course. The course includes turning through cones with out braking or hitting the cones, while being distracted by instructors on motorcycles blaring sirens, blowing horns and yelling.
“I thought I was a good rider, but I’m not good at all,” said Baker. “I practiced the techniques and got through the course and now I’ll be able to apply them to the course I teach.”
Mulinax, who coordinates safety courses for the NCNG soldiers and airmen, called the courses, “one of the most pro-active safety programs in the North Carolina National Guard.”
“Since the beginning of June 2013 the Army has lost 14 soldiers to motorcycle accidents and in 2012 the Army lost more soldiers to motorcycle accidents than to all other types of vehicle accidents.”
Although there have been motorcycle related deaths involving North Carolina Guardsmen, Anspach believes that the motorcycle safety program is making a difference in their safety.
“Since 2008 there have been eight North Carolina National Guard service members killed in motorcycle accident,” Anspach said. “But, out of all of the deaths, not one of them had taken the Experienced Rider’s Course. That speaks volumes for the course.”
Anspach and Baker will continue to volunteer their time to help ensure our guardsmen are always ready by preparing them for dangers they face on the open road.
This work, NC Guard soldiers complete NC Highway Patrol Motorcycle Officer Course, will serve as safety instructors for NCNG, by SSG Mary Junell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.