You know you have a problem when what seems like a relatively innocuous change meets resistance, even in the face of a logical reason to change. Take for example, a recent article on CNN.com (link below) that reported a teen, for his science project, estimated a savings to the federal budget simply by changing fonts on all government printed documents. While I have read the article and find it surprising that anyone in their right mind would look at the evidence and not be in favor of making a cosmetic change in order to save millions of dollars, I am also surprised that it is so obvious and yet there hasn’t been any politician who would simply say, â€œMake this happenâ€ and it does.
The provision of emergency services is riddled with practices that we hold dear that are being one by one proven to be based on anecdotes rather than on science. But even the most obvious things, like wearing a seat belt, seem to undergo challenge. And of course, there is also the resistance to change based not on any shift in the evidence but purely based on emotion.
If there is something I have learned in time, it is that the truth lies along the middle path. In regard to the safety of our brothers, I do not align my views with Monday morning quarterbacks, safety nazis, or conversely, the cowboys who think charging into a vacant, dilapidated occupancy that is blowing fire out of either end is a good idea. I stopped marching in lock-step and stated thinking for myself a long time ago; I take what is handed to me as the story, I examine it, and I draw my own conclusions. I donâ€™t let others draw conclusions for me.
One sure sign of the weakling is the one who chooses to take a side not because he understands the situation, but because he is parroting what others have told him is the truth. For a group of people so proud of being cynical and skeptical (â€œWe fight what you fear!â€, â€œWe save people from themselvesâ€, etc.) we take what is formed into a sound bite and accept it as the Gospel. The fire service has a vast and vocal majority that canâ€™t intelligently discuss the issues we face short of whether it is better to have a leather helmet or a plastic one. After that, it is all a crap shoot.
When we lose brother firefighters, we should realize that not only does their passing affect us, their family and their friends, but it also affects the community. We also need to realize that their death costs us in financial terms as well as emotional ones. There aren’t good reasons, normally, for losing firefighters. If a firefighter loses his or her life saving another, Iâ€™m much more willing to understand the risk we take. When a firefighter is ejected from a vehicle for not wearing a seat belt, well, Iâ€™m not so sure that meets the â€œgood ideaâ€ standard. Or when they have a heart attack and havenâ€™t ever made an attempt to find out their health history or adapt a relatively balanced lifestyle (hey, I didn’t even say â€œhealthyâ€- but you canâ€™t expect to live long on a diet of Cokes, fires and fast food burgers), well, Iâ€™m wondering what they were thinking.
Donâ€™t get me wrong, this resistance is much more than in health and safety issues. We as a whole, continue to ignore the facts in many of the things we do, not out of anything but a resistance to logic. The problem is, when you are presented the facts and the facts give you a direction, running counter to that direction isn’t just a bad idea, it could even be construed as negligent.
Be an agent of understanding, asking questions of others and striving to learn everything about an issue BEFORE placing yourself on a side. The outcome will be much more sane.