Now that we have discussed the four major players in the argument against credentialing, lets talk about the argument for it.
A credential is only as good as the standard by which it is issued. The point of having a credential should be to identify an individual or other resource as a certain type and kind. If there is no standard, you might as well tell the carrier of a credential, "just stand over there until I can find something you can't screw up."
A worthwhile credential should also have some security associated with it. After all, if anyone could get one, what good would it be? So there are issues of validation involved as well.
In disaster after disaster, free-deploying individuals and "organizations" (and I use that term very loosely) go to "help" and in many cases, put a drain on an already over-taxed system and cause the diversion of legitimate resources from going to areas in need. And while there is obviously some merit in the use of bystanders for certain aspects of disaster response, that has to be weighed seriously against the risk of their involvement, including the risk to themselves and the affected community, as well as the risk to rescuers, who ultimately must rescue the well-meaning if things don't go according to plan.
There is no way to eliminate the truly altruistic in their quest to render aid. Nor should there be. But likewise, the civilians must understand implicitly that there comes a point when they must be diverted from the scene so the professionals can take over, especially when it comes to the extremely hazardous parts.
The standards in themselves seem to be quite the sticking point with some. Standards utilized for the purpose of credentialing should be consensus standards and all keyholders included in the development of those standards, versus the exclusivity of some of the currently suggested drafts. But once these are done, ratified, and chosen to be the driving force in identification of the qualified, there needs to be the embracing of the concept. If organizations can't agree on and use a standard that has meaning, then the credential is useless.
Like anything else, the change in this concept might be painful for some. There are departments out there who are struggling with the unfunded mandates. I can also sympathize with the organizations who want to become part of a greater plan like a National Mutual Aid Box Alarm System but don't seem to know where to start or how to get involved. I guess my first order of business, then, is to tell you how to get involved. If there's anything I can do, it's point you in a direction toward activism.
Change will only come about if we work together to make it happen. If you won't stand for change, you don't stand a chance to change. Our industry is going through some important times but as you might notice (as I do all too well, sometimes), these initiatives take off for a while then they lose momentum. Of course, that's just until the next disaster.
Let's work together to make something move. In the next post, I'll talk about opportunities to get involved.