(Insert Task Here) For Dummies

IMG_0144 webI’ve been very busy working on my wife’s company’s website and unable to really spend any time blogging lately.  That’s probably a good thing as I really have wanted to learn a little more about creating sites from scratch (or close enough, using Dreamweaver) but found it to be much harder at first than I thought it would be.  I created a whole bunch of sites several years ago which caught the attention of many of you (the old HHIFR Station 6 – The Icehouse website as well as one for each of our stations, etc.) using a VERY user friendly online program.  Then when someone decided to jack up the price on the site hosting and it ultimately started to come out of my own pocket, I just let it close down.

But anyway, since then I have undertaken several web management and development projects and the long story short, I had to purchase the book “Dreamweaver for Dummies”.  It really opened up the door and now I am making much more headway than I had at all before.

I have contemplated a “Firefighting for Dummies” book, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing.  Or how about “Paramedic Certification For Dummies”?  As I’m writing this, someone is probably stealing my idea, but I’m afraid itn not likely that any fire academies or paramedic training institutions out there are going to spend big bucks recommending a book to their students that suggests they are dummies (I think the books are mostly of the “self-help” genre).

So anyway, as I was writing this, I’m watching the news and on a neighboring island, there have been a significant number of drownings this summer.  Now the video-journalist shoots a picture of the beach and on it there are not one, not two, but FOUR signs warning people about the rip currents, etc.  I’d bet there’s more, but the segment had to fit in people talking and stuff.  There’s talk now about educating the tourists and other beachgoers.

Any time that you have multiple signs on anything warning about something and people disregard the warnings, something tells me an education message isn’t going to do much more than heap onto the pile of ignored information.  I don’t know what the answer is.  Think anyone hanging out at the beach would like to purchase an advance copy of “Beaching for Dummies”? 

When we put people through a training academy and we tell them about the safety issues of our job, then educate them on a daily basis, warn them with little tags and signs on the equipment we use and the apparatus we ride, and put posters in stations, etc. and unsafe behavior continues, is it an education issue or an attitudinal issue?  There’s a favorite question someone asked in a seminar I was in once, as to whether the problem a subordinate had was a commitment issue or a competence issue.  The difference, he said, was, “if you were to put a loaded and cocked .45 to the head of the person and said, ‘do the task’, if they could then do the task, the issue wasn’t a competence issue, it was a commitment issue”.

Now I certainly don’t advocate trying this at home, but it kinda makes for an interesting point.  Because the issues I am discussing here are the ability for personnel to take precautions regarding safety issues, it really is an issue of life or death and yet there are those who choose to challenge the odds anyway.  So is it really a competence issue?  Is it a commitment issue?  I’d suggest that it’s the challenge of “it can’t happen to me”.

Despite the warnings, despite the education, and the despite the dangerous nature of our jobs, firefighters continue to exhibit risky behavior when no value is gained by their doing so.  Something as routine as buckling your seatbelt doesn’t take away from the glory and excitement of going to a working fire, yet firefighters are killed and injured every year because they fail to do it.

It puzzles me as to why people continue to do things that are contrary to common sense.  Hell, I’m one of them.  But there are things I do that I know will save my life and I make it a point to share those tips with people on a regular basis, and yet I see those same people ignoring that advice and getting hurt.  Maybe we do need a “Firefighting for Dummies” book.

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