The Reality of the “If Only”

By Ryan Murray

             Summer 2005, back in my small western Kansas hometown, I was eager to start my career in the medical field. I developed a passion for the emergency department and receiving trauma patients. Obviously a lot of those trauma cases are a result of motor vehicle accidents. Living in small town America there is a high probability you personally know the patient entering those doors, sometimes encountering a friend, family member or coworker.
           Therefore, the devastating consequences are noticeable long after and beyond the emergency room. I started to take notice that almost every case had mention of a “if only.” If only they had worn their seat belt, If only they were paying attention, if only they were not texting, and the list goes on.
            In 2010, I started my current position in emergency services, and the “if only” was present even more. While working on scene of motor vehicle accidents, I started taking notice to traffic passing by the scene and how distracted some were. I started thinking if only they knew their actions are the very same that led to this accident they are driving around.
            Hearing the “if only,” witnessing a survivor’s long recovery, or the notification of a fatal accident to the victim’s loved ones, all lead us to a reality check into our own driving habits and safety. Today with every click of the seat belt is a memory of if only they had, every time the phone rings while driving is a thought of if only they had not answered. Put the brakes on fatalities and don’t allow the “if only” to prevent you from arriving at your destination safely.

Ryan Murray is the Director of Cheyenne County Emergency Services and the Kansas County Emergency Manager for Cheyenne, Rawlins and Sherman counties


  1. Thank you for this important reminder. We all think "it won't happen to me." Your firsthand experience allows you to know otherwise. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Driving requires 100 percent of your time and attention and everytime you get behind the wheel, you must accept that responsibility. Don't put yourself in the "if only" category, follow the rules of the road, buckle up, every trip, every time and do your part to "Put the Brakes on Fatalities."

  3. Anonymous9/23/2014

    That 'if only' phrase can haunt you. I've heard it a few times from friends and family in years' past who were dealing with a devastating loss. It's such a difficult thing to process.