As we progress though life, sometimes events hit us right square in the head that says…..”Hey Stupid, You Payin Attention?”. I am not sure why, but over the past several months there have been several events that meet that question and has had me reflecting on several issues.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have had some pretty significant incidents that have again forced our firefighters and our organization to stretch and be flexible. Going above and beyond, work past the point where we are tired and would like to quit, and putting ourselves in harms way to help others.
A couple of weeks back in started raining. And not just a little bit once and a while but a whole bunch of rain in a very short time. I can remember talking with several of the firefighters on our water rescue team about the events unfolding in communities near us dealing with whole communities being flooded and wanting to go and help. As the saying goes; “Be Careful What You Wish For”! Early the next morning our people had the chance to respond to their own community being flooded but we didn’t have far to travel to get there.
The water rose fast, people in the community were in immediate danger, life threatening water conditions were present, it was dark, and on and on we can talk about how bad it was. No question about it. It WAS bad and it was very dangerous. The personnel that responded as part of the operation didn’t blink an eye. They walked right in and were ready to do what was necessary.
Overall the incident was a success. No question on anyone’s mind that lives were saved. Fortunately no one was injured and lucky no one was killed. The event could have easily turned out different for a number of reasons. Even members of the fire district found themselves in the water and had to self-rescue. But undaunted, they returned and went right back to work. Didn’t really want to but they did it anyway. There were still people who needed rescue and the job wasn’t done yet.
The reason for the title of this particular blog is really unrelated to everything you have ready up to this point. Things happen, and you move on. The reason why I posted today is what has taken place since then.
There were some mistakes made. Fortunately none of them resulted in a serious failure or negative outcome but they were mistakes that could have had serious consequences. The tendency is to overlook those mistakes, brush them under the rug, pat everyone on the back and tell them how great they were and go on. Which means that many times we are destined to repeat the events of the past because nothing changes.
After this particular incident, there have been many side conversations about the events as they occurred. What went right and in particular what went wrong. Not to find fault, not to place blame, but to identify those things that need to be done differently.
When these conversations occur or when formal debriefings are conducted post incident, the tendency can be to take things personal, argue and fight, and to say “It’s not my fault”.
Our organization just completed a debriefing of that event. I was truly proud of those that were present. There was some very frank conversation about what occurred and what needs to be done different. All aspects of the event were discussed from personnel to operations to equipment to procedures. All of it was discussed. And, some great suggestions about how to improve our operation, training, and processes for future events.
Sometimes, it is just nice to get together, talk about “stuff” and make the plan better.
It takes courage to do the right thing. Many people will say that it is the only way to be. I don’t disagree but it is much easier to say than it is to put into practice.
Having the courage to admit when you are wrong, identify when mistakes are made, and to be willing to objectively look at how to improve for the next time is one of the most important things we can do in life.
Sometimes, it is nice to just sit back, watch things unfold around you, see the character and the courage of those around you in plain sighte, and be thankful to have some great people that you call brothers and sisters and serve shoulder to shoulder with everyday.
Way to go Gang!