I have to be a little amused at the emergency service types who pride themselves on being "the best at their job", but couldn't figure out how to do something if you were swatting them in the head with the instruction manual. I have a little rule: if you call me, you'd better have tried to solve the problem yourself first. I don't have a lot of tolerance for those who throw up their hands at the slightest issue and bemoan their inability to move along.
Ironically, I have heard these very same folks complain when a little old lady calls 9-1-1 because they have fallen out of bed, or have a broken pipe, or their smoke detector is chirping. I have heard it straight from their mouths: "Why do these idiots call us? What makes them think the fire department is there to solve all their problems?"
It really makes me want to say, "You know, the next time you make a comment about how bad things are, or something is broken and you don't know what to do, or how miserable your existence is because the so-and-so doesn't work, I'm probably just going to tell you to STFU." And most of the time, that's exactly what I say, which doesn't win me a lot of friends.
My daughters are young, but not so young that I can't teach them that helplessness is not an excuse. Its okay for the general population, but if you want to succeed in life, when faced with a problem, solve it. Create a workaround, run it over, beat it with a hammer, but don't just give up and call for help until you absolutely, positively can't move forward without it.
There's nothing wrong with asking for help. People need help because they lack the resources to solve a problem, be it knowledge, tools, ability, or some other issue. But when the people who are supposed to be solving problems for others can't figure out how to solve problems on their own without involving the next two levels of command, I have a problem with that.
I read a great article today from the New York Times that was being tweeted by a childhood friend of mine: Average Is Over by Thomas Friedman. In it there is discussion that in order to be successful in today's new world, being average doesn't cut it. You had better find a niche or some sort of expertise in something, because frankly, graduating high school and going out into the workforce to be content on an assembly line isn't going to happen, unless of course, you happen to be Chinese and living in a factory dorm.
Our industry, the industry of helping people, is one of those niches that can pay off. Maybe the actual delivery of firefighting can be passed off to the bots, but all the technology in the world isn't going to be able to analyze a problem, take what you brought, and develop a solution using grit, spit and duct tape.
You have an opportunity to be successful because our business is the business of fixing problems. But if you can't manage to get through your shift because your e-mail is down, or if the entire day is wrecked because the air conditioning is out in the engine, well, you might want to consider a new career as a sheep. Success comes to people who solve the challenges they are faced with with the resources they have access to. Those who can't, don't.