An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Put your mask on first

  • Published
  • By Maj. Don Lim
  • 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Group
How often have you heard: "Secure your own mask first before helping others?" Probably every time you travel before taking off, you hear the speech from the flight attendant over the aircraft speaker.

But have you really thought about why the airlines tell you to put your mask on first? At face value it seems selfish. Me, me, I am going to save myself. The sentence seems contrary to our core value: Service Before Self.

In reality, it is a vital component of the Air Force's Core Value of Excellence in All We Do. You can't help your Wingman if you yourself are incapacitated or not ready. Securing your own mask first means taking care of yourself physically, mentally, fiscally and spiritually. It is all about personal excellence.

When was the last time you decided to help someone but weren't able to? Did you think about what it would have taken to assist someone? You probably ended up doubting yourself and thought, "What if...?"

This is where our Core Value of Excellence in All We Do comes in. By enriching yourself and preparing yourself, you never have to second guess yourself and ask the question, "What if...?" You will be able to act decisively and with confidence when the need arises - first time, every time.

The little blue book states: Excellence in All We Do directs us to develop a sustained passion for continuous improvement and innovation that will propel the Air Force into a long-term, upward spiral of accomplishment and performance.

We should be constantly challenging ourselves to improve. Status quo is not an option. This means finishing your PME, seeking and completing higher education, becoming the expert in your field, engaging in your community, maintaining fiscal discipline, ensuring your personal and family life are in order, being fulfilled spiritually, and maintaining physical standards at all times. Any one deficiency will be a distracter at best, or worse, you become the burden of others.

As members of the military service, we are tasked to be able to deploy at a moment's notice anywhere in the world to fulfill the oaths we have taken to defend the Constitution and our way of life. In order to fulfill this obligation we must be ready in body, mind and soul.

We must be able to leave at a moment's notice to fulfill our obligation without having to worry about what is happening at home or wondering if we are prepared. If you are not truly ready then you cannot assist the person next to you.

So put your mask on first, and THEN help those around you.