Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Leadership Comes At a Price

With the most recent LODD report on the Homewood, IL firefighter death at a single family dwelling, it got me to thinking about our culture once again.

In a discussion thread (http://www.firefighternation.com/forum/topics/how-is-all-of-this-lodds), I mentioned that there are two camps on LODDs.

In one camp, you have those who believe that firefighting is inherently dangerous, risks are part of the job and LODDs are as low as they can go or “aren’t that ‘bad’”.

In the other camp, you have those who believe that safety has turned the profession into a bunch of safety sallies. Some in this camp also believes that safety is actually making firefighting unsafe, because it causes hesitancy.

There IS a third camp; the camp that I am in.

In this camp, you believe that you can deliver your services, fulfill your mission to your community, conduct a good risk/benefit analysis and still satisfy that desire in firefighters to fully engage the enemy (fire) without being seriously injured or killed.

You are neither “yard breather” nor “smoke-eater”.

But, what all of the discussion got me to wondering about is this:

Are we empowering firefighters to a degree that subverts or usurps command?

Have we spent so much time pressing for command and control that we have lost sight of the leadership role?

Why do I get the feeling that the “designated” incident commander is walking-nay, floating-towards the incident with whiteboard and binder in hand and no one is following him?

See; I understand that, on career departments, most of what gets done at a fire scene is from battalion chief on down. Day in and day out, the crews are developing relationships within the crew and refining skills to the point where you “just do it”.

In John Salka’s book, “First In; Last Out”, he wrote a lot about the FDNY culture of developing leaders from those who ask questions, challenges the answers in the form of more questions until they put it into practice. It is a system that seems to work well for them.

However; in a department where the officers don’t take a promotional exam, I have to question the department’s leadership, because typically, the top officer has a strangle hold on the others’ behavior and might believe THAT is leadership; when in fact, it is far from it.

How can you grow into a leader, if your growth is being stymied by a person who believes that taking training outside the department is a waste of time and money?

How open would this top dog be to being told, “Hey, chief; I was on a firefighting website and learned some hose drills that I’d like to show our guys”?

Or, maybe you read an article in one of the trade magazines. It doesn’t matter. I’m betting that you’ll be shot down by the tyrant. In their world, free thinking and discussion is treasonous.

Do you trust the people that you have met on the Internet more than some of the people that populate your department and especially those who are in officer positions?

Do you feel empowered or intimidated?

Do you feel confident or insecure?

Do you feel safe or at risk?

Do you have a plan or is your plan to rely on Luck?

Can you live your dream or be content with simply going through the motions?

Can you change it or do you even care to?

Can you become the person on your department that people will listen to, will follow and support, because they TRUST you?

Can you think of one thing that can stop you?

It is not a lonely journey when you take others with you.

It is a journey that is absolutely necessary to move your department and the fire service forward; led by the best and the brightest leaders-leaders who can accomplish the mission AND keep their people safe.

Your journey starts here…NOW!

TCSS.

The article is protected by federal copyright law under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella. It is written and submitted by Art Goodrich a.k.a. ChiefReason. This article or any other article submitted under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella cannot be reproduced in ANY form without the expressed, written permission of the author. Violations are punishable by applicable laws.
Please visit: www.fireemsblogs.com and my blog www.chiefreasonart.com.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

He Died While Playing a Live Victim!

What could Bradley Golden possibly gain from playing a live victim during a training exercise?
What could he possibly learn by being led upstairs by Adam Croman, along with Ben Morris, to where they were told to lay on the bedroom floor and wait to be rescued?
It was September 25, 2001 and between the three of them, their age TOTALLED 59 years.
Along with that, they had a grand total of four years and three weeks COMBINED service on the Lairdsville Fire Department.
Today, Adam Croman, the “old guy” of the three is 30 years old. Ben Morris is 28 years old and Brad Golden would have been 28 years old as well.
You see; it has been 9 years ago that, on September 25, 2001; just 14 days after America was attacked that Brad Golden died in a fiery hell at the hands of a fire department that had accepted him with open arms just three, short weeks before.
So, I will ask again; with just three weeks on the fire department, what could Brad Golden learn from playing a live victim?
Did he learn how to use an SCBA? Not according to his training records.
Did you know that when his lifeless body was found, his air tank valve to his SCBA bottle was OFF and he still had 1700 psi of air left in his tank?
Did you know that his face had burns consistent with removing his mask, but yet, he was found with his mask on?
Did you know that Brad died a very painful death from asphyxia due to smoke inhalation, because his assistant chief set a fire below him, Morris and Croman in the stairwell-their only means of escape-that grew until it flashed over, trapping him and Ben Morris in the upstairs bedroom?
What happened to Adam Croman, you ask?
Well, according to HIM, he went into survival mode, became “separated” from Brad and Ben, but was able to bail out a window.
Ben was rescued, but because of some confusion over the number of victims, Brad’s rescue was delayed.
When he was found, he was laying in the fetal position. God; that just rips at my heart when I think about it. It still makes me angry, even nine years later.
I made a promise nine years ago that I would remember Bradley Golden for the rest of my life.
I made a promise that I would not let our fire service forget this young man’s very preventable death during a training exercise.
Alan Baird III was the only one charged and convicted in the death of Brad Golden. Others who were involved with the training exercise lawyered up and copped pleas.
They ALL got off too easy, in my opinion.
Because of this incident, “Bradley’s Law” was created and signed into law by then-governor George Pataki, making it a crime to use live victims in live fire training in the state of New York.
The incident has also been included in many discussions on acquired structure, live-burn training and particularly NFPA 1403, the national standard on live fire training.
To learn more about the Lairdsville Incident, I encourage you to go to my blog www.chiefreasonart.com, click on “Brad’s Page” tab and read “Just Enough Time to Die”.
On Thursday, September 30th at 9:00 pm ET, FirefighterNetcast Presents The Voice of Reason will devote the entire show to a roundtable discussion of the training exercise that killed Brad Golden, the trial of Alan Baird III, the appeals and civil lawsuits.
I made a promise that I intend to keep.
Please join me.
TCSS.
The article is protected by federal copyright law under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella. It is written and submitted by Art Goodrich a.k.a. ChiefReason. This article or any other article submitted under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella cannot be reproduced in ANY form without the expressed, written permission of the author. Violations are punishable by applicable laws.
Please visit: www.fireemsblogs.com and my blog www.chiefreasonart.com.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Give Your Department Tools, Not Slogans


I was in Vermont over the past weekend at the Franklin-Lamoille Regional Fire School. What an awesome educational opportunity for the fire service in that area of Vermont. As I walked around the Campus of an elementary school I was constantly face to face with a picture hanging on a wall which had a slogan on it. You know the type; Think outside the box, Your actions speak louder than words, attitude is everything...This is not unusual by any means. Just walk into many offices and businesses and you will see the same type of venue. I have been guilty of even doing the same thing in fire stations. Since I was teaching two days worth of officer development and leadership I decided to do a little experiment. I ask several of the attendees who had passed by these Pictures with Slogans several times at least first if they had noticed them and secondly could they tell me what they said. Out of 20 students I polled only 6 stated they had noticed them and only 2 could tell me what was even written on one of them. This set me to really thinking. Just how effective are these wall hanging picture/slogans. Obviously they were not jumping out and inspiring people like we would hope they would be doing. It is obvious that these were not producing any lasting value.


Slogans may sound great, but in order for them to be effective these concepts have to be read, contemplated on and action taken to make them effective. Most times we never get past the reading portion. If you want success you have to chose the right setting for these where individuals are looking specifically for these motivational slogans.


Slogans may sound great, but in order to take the organization to the higher levels, people don't need these platitudes, they need tools. So what are these tools?


Environment


The first is the environment that is conducive for growth. This means having the right atmosphere, opportunities and mind set that is fostered from the top down. We have to make sure that we are setting an environment for individuals who make up the organization to be able to perform at their peak performance.


What we can do:
1. Create a workplace that provides meaning and purpose for our employees. A place where they feel they are making a difference.


2. Show and tell your staff they are appreciated. Go out of your way to say thank you and show your appreciation when staff members go above and beyond. Awards, banners, recognition and appreciation events and just a simple thank you

3. Encourage your staff to find and utilize their talents. This includes talking to your employees, especially those who are not performing to your expectations. Maybe they are bored or unchallenged in their position. Sometimes moving them to a different position in the organization that is of more interest to them or that utilizes their skills and personality better will be just what the doctor ordered. Guess what, everyone will most likely be happier.

Maybe it's time to recommend to the employee that its time to make a company change. Offer to provide them a transition time, and maybe assist them with the search to find a position that will make them happy. Explain to them that there is nothing wrong with admitting that your organization or position is not right for them personally. Encourage the employee to do what is best for them, and most likely your practice will benefit from this decision as well.


4. Spend money on the work environment-it is a wise investment. Little things can go along way in improving the work environment.


Tools

1. Knowledge - Knowledge is power. It can help you and your personnel reach goals. That’s why it’s important to become a well informed person both professionally and personally. Attend and provide opportunities for personnel to attend professional seminars, training programs, allow and encourage networking, provide and read technical / business journals. Become and allow others to become someone who is in the know. Stay up to date on what’s happening in your industry and discipline. Read industry publications. Get to know the issues facing your department, your company and your industry. Learn and understand the competitive environment of your organization. Develop the technical skills you need to do your job well. Keep them up to date. Take classes – on line, at a local adult education center, a community college – anyplace that helps you keep your skills up. Find yourself a great mentor and be a great mentor to someone. Remember to always pay your knowledge forward.


2. The "Right" Equipment - As we expect and demand higher level of performance from our most valuable resource (personnel) it is critical that we give then the tools and resources they need to adequately and safely do their jobs. Anything we can do to enhance their performance we need to explore and ultimately provide. many people may argue this one but technology is critical. We must focus on has technology provided us a better way or avenue in which to complete the task. Updating older equipment is critical in the performance measuring components.


We intuitively know that people need to believe they can do the job. The problem is leaders are often tempted to attempt raising peoples performance through so nicely word-smithed slogan. At any given time a strong inspirational slogan is good to hear, however when the rubber meets the road, the workers need more. Only when leaders provide them with the right tools will they be able to meet their peak performance. So just a little thought here...What are your people missing that would make their performance increase?


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thought-less?

Consider this the companion piece to my last blog: http://chiefreasonart.com/2010/09/15/to-think-outside-the-box-you-first-need-a-box/.

Have we lost the ability to think for ourselves?

Have we been so inundated with information from the many forms of social media that it has become HOW we think, instead of SHAPING the way that we think?

Thought al a carte?

The velocity at which we receive our information is pushing it out so quickly that it leaves no time to ponder, give it deep thought or even discuss it for any length of time. It is “crawlers” and “breaking news headlines” in short bursts. A passing thought on the way to the next subject!

And I think that it is causing us to become as impulsive with our opinions as we are with our shopping. I am sure that you have heard the phrase “impulse buy”. Well, I happen to think that there are impulse opinions floating around out there based upon impulsive thoughts.

I believe that because I used to think that a person’s opinions were interwoven into personal convictions that created a base of moral fiber. You could not develop strong, personal convictions simply because you read something somewhere once. You had to delve into it more deeply; read more about it, talk about it, weigh it against your conscience and decide if you agreed or disagreed with it and then articulate your opinion about it. It becomes stronger as you witness it having positive impact, in your mind. From there, it adds to the development of you, as a person.

That may sound like a lengthy process, but it can be so subtle and transparent that it is building in us until you see or hear something that you feel is contrary to what you read or heard; perhaps, you “interpreted” it differently, which will also create a forum for different opinions.

Are we taking someone else’s opinion as ours’ because we don’t want to take the time to investigate the subject matter? It’s someone that you trust and if they say that it is so, then it is so.

How many cable TV talk shows are there now; each with some puffed up pontificator telling us; nay, pouring their hearts out to us about everything from tea parties, women in the locker room, where you should invest your money or where a mosque should or shouldn’t be built. They want you to believe that they are the moral equivalent of the Holy Grail because they want their beliefs to be your beliefs and if you don’t give it serious thought, you will pass their views off as your own. Congratulations; you have simply become the mouth of another talking head. Listen to the room go silent as soon as you qualify your statement with “well, I was watching Glenn Beck…”

It just so happens that I watch Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann and Anderson Cooper and Jon Stewart because I want ALL sides. I also read publications that are left, right, liberal, conservative, mainstream, radical, biased, unbiased, partisan, non-partisan and humorous. I don’t search for information that supports my opinion. I look for things that will support the way or to shape the way that I think and opinions will grow from there. It does no good most of the time to simply argue opposing opinions. To move the debate forward, one must give the other something new to think about.

Now; I admit that I read a lot and I watch various TV shows when I have time; all in an effort to find as much information as I can, so that if something like health care, pensions, budgets, religion, politics or even daily living is discussed, I want to receive the information so that I can decide for ME what is best in my mind and if I should happen to take a wrong point of view upon reflection, I will correct it. It’s not an uncommon occurrence; I have been wrong before, but in the realm of opinions, are there “wrong” opinions or is it someone else’s opinion that you have the wrong opinion?

Deep stuff, I know, but trust me; this blog has an ending.

As we continue to surround ourselves with the gadgets that will do more for us, it is requiring that we do less and less and that includes thinking.

Think of all of the cell phone apps, the remote control at home that runs your home entertainment system, your computer, microwave oven, refrigerator/freezer, coffeemaker and who knows what else. Hell; your car goes where the GPS tells it to. The Griswolds no longer have to sit down and map out their vacation. You simply plug in the coordinates into the GPS system and planning has become obsolete.

I just misspelled a word and the computer automatically changed it. No need to spell check when I’m finished. It corrects it real time to save time. Wow!

Anyone who has been around the fire service knows that you can’t be impulsive. Despite the fact that we have pre-plans, SOGs and box cards, every person at the incident must still THINK about what they are doing or are about to do. We often hear that we must train until it is automatic. That might be the case if you are talking about human behavior, but not where you are dealing with natural phenomenon involving Fire. It is a chemical chain reaction that isn’t completely predictable. Therefore; you must have the capacity to think your way out of a situation that changes unexpectedly. They don’t have a cell phone app for that.

When we get into those conversations where we think that there is too much to learn, then how can we expect that learning process to mature if we are being spoon fed in baby bites that information that we receive in our daily lives to the point that it contaminates our ability to engage in any critical thinking?

We cannot have a cookie cutter approach to what we do.

We have to continue to THINK our way to safer and better ways to deliver our services.

I cannot tell you how to think or what to think.

I am simply asking you to give it some thought!

TCSS.

The article is protected by federal copyright law under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella. It is written and submitted by Art Goodrich a.k.a. ChiefReason. This article or any other article submitted under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella cannot be reproduced in ANY form without the expressed, written permission of the author. Violations are punishable by applicable laws.
Please visit: www.fireemsblogs.com and my blog www.chiefreasonart.com.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

To “Think Outside the Box, You First Need a Box!

I have been reading views on opposing ends of the spectrum.

In this corner, we are encouraged to “think outside the box”; get creative in how we recruit, train and lead our fire departments.

In the other corner is the idea that, in the volunteer fire service, maybe we have gone too far away from what we do well and are getting involved in too much and it might be costing us firefighters.

I am going to take a look at both to give the reader some food for thought.

Firehouse Zen Master Mick Mayers is a thinking chief’s chief. His articles are provocative, thoughtful and leave you with the challenges that he presents to you. His thinking does not follow the conservative route and he most certainly is skilled at “thinking outside of the box”. Read here:
http://firehousezen.com/2010/09/14/how-far-outside-your-box-frontiers-around-you/.

Unfortunately, Mick and many like him are anomalies; exceptions. They have taken their departments up the ladder and over the bars in their goal attainment and have the luxury of experimenting with new tools, tactics and interfacing.

That’s why I said that you first need a box; the box being at least the basics.

The basics of what, you ask?

The basics of whatever list of services that you provide for your community.

Whoa; the opposing end is tugging at me.

Firefighters are somehow different today, I guess. Apparently, they aren’t as inclined to dedicate themselves to the necessary training to be proficient? I read something about being “self-centered”?

Hey; I’m not saying that I agree with that last statement, but whoever said it in their blog must believe that to be the case. Read here: http://noambitionbutone.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/has-the-urban-world-passed-by-the-vollies/.

See; I believe if a community is going to have a fire department, then the department needs to be equipped and trained to provide the services that the community PAYS for. If that is fire protection only, then so be it. If that includes vehicle extrication and medical calls, then you best be trained and equipped to do that. It shouldn’t come at the end of the conversation in the form of “what do you mean you don’t do that?”

So, people who join the department need to know the amount of initial training that is needed and the training needed thereafter to maintain certifications, proficiency and active on the department.

In the age of multi-tasking, I don’t understand how someone can say, “It’s quite obvious that a guy who is working a ‘real job’ 60+ hours a week can hardly master the science of the fire service; much less the art of what we do”. Now; I know we don’t want to reveal how we do our magic, but come on; they’re doing it in Third World countries, although it might consist of throwing dirt on the fire instead of water.

I guess that same person couldn’t hold down their full time job and work towards their masters’ or PhD degrees? I hope it’s not in some science discipline!

I know many-myself included-who did just that. We held down our full time jobs, took our training, ran calls, went to our meetings, coached our kids in baseball, went to their school activities and enjoyed our hobbies and all the while, fulfilled our duties as a firefighter, father and husband. We took the training together to support each other. We watched each others’ kids so we could go to training. If there are impediments that can be easily resolved, then do it.

So, we at least agree that we shouldn’t be offering services that we are not trained and equipped to provide. I don’t think that we CAN be all/do all. But, the firefighters AND the community needs to know, so that there are no false expectations.

Take as an example confined space rescue.

If you are not trained to perform rescues in confined spaces, then you don’t do it. You contact a department that you have an agreement with and THEY do it. Your department can perform all the functions outside of the confined space. Your crew is trained at the awareness level, which means you know that you are NOT to enter a confined space. It is not rocket science, but it is very structured in how it must be done. Same way with high angle or trench rescue (technical rescue). If you have pre-planned your district, you know where these hazards are located and can auto aid if a call comes in.

We are fortunate in Illinois to have MABAS and they have teams in all of their districts that have specialized training. Their teams are made up of volunteer and career firefighters. They can be activated at any time. And yes; you might be looking at recovery and not rescue.

Do we expect too much from our volunteers? We do if we expect them to do everything. I have a buddy who thinks that all he needs is a good pair of Ringer rescue gloves and a Leatherman 400-in-1 tool and he can defeat the aliens! Oh; what heart.

However; I don’t think that “there is too much to know how to do, and do well, for a volunteer to keep up”.

If you believe that, then maybe it’s time for national standards. Maybe everyone trained to the same firefighter certification program. Then, standardize the specialized training and offer it to departments that will likely need it in their communities.

Whatever is the solution, you can bet that volunteers will know what’s in their “box”. Some WILL think outside of it, but for others, well, they will only be able to take the awareness training.

TCSS.

The article is protected by federal copyright law under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella. It is written and submitted by Art Goodrich a.k.a. ChiefReason. This article or any other article submitted under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella cannot be reproduced in ANY form without the expressed, written permission of the author. Violations are punishable by applicable laws.
Please visit: www.fireemsblogs.com and my blog www.chiefreasonart.com

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Often Attitude is the Only Difference between Success and Failure


History’s greatest achievements have been made by individuals who excelled only slightly over the masses of other individuals in their respective fields. I am reminded of this when you look at athletes. Most have significant levels of talent. The same is true for the fire service. Most of our personnel have strong predicated skills, abilities and knowledge. So what puts the people excelling in front of the others? Most times that small difference is attitude. Over the years I have had the opportunity to spend time with many different fire departments. The difference was captured by the late Ralph Jackman, Fire Chief in Vergennes, Vermont. In a conversation standing in the apparatus bay of the Vergennes Fire Department he commented that his department did not have the greatest equipment or the fanciest of fire apparatus. In fact he stated the sometimes struggle with the financial end of keeping up. He did quickly point out that that his personnel had passion, desire and the right attitude to serve, which was the critical factor in the success of the organization. He went on to further reiterate the importance of having a positive attitude and what that brings to the formula of success. He stated, “Give me someone who has a good attitude and I can work with them on the other things.”

Certainly aptitude is important to our success in life or the success of an organization. Yet anyone who has been around the fire service for more than a few days knows success or failure is precipitated more by mental attitude than by mere mental capacities. WE have to recognize the true importance of the total equation I.Q. (Intelligence Quotient) + A.Q. (Attitude Quotient) = Success or Failure. We have all witnessed individuals whose I.Q. was extremely high and their performance was low and the opposite of low I.Q and high performance. The difference in each of these formulas is the attitude quotient. There is very little difference in people, but that little difference, attitude, makes a big difference.

So how do we become successful organizations excelling in all aspects? First we must have talented personnel in place. We must foster positive attitudes. This fostering is critical and it is not just the responsibility of the Fire Chief. Sure it may begin there but the critical dimension is within the officers, especially company officers. It is paramount that officers maintain a strong -positive attitude. The true leaders and trainers of today’s fire service are the company officers. In many organizations it is glaringly apparent that the company officers don’t possess the correct attitudes. This is a serious issue because they begin to affect the troops as their leadership is mostly what these individuals see. Just like cancer growing, attitudes spreads very quickly whether it is positive or negative.

Some Individuals would look at a pile of rubble and say “what a mess” while others will look at the same pile and say “what an opportunity”. Which one of these individuals would you want leading the fire department in your community? Most would say the one who has a vision of what that “mess” could be. This is an excellent example of a positive attitude.

With all this said…how is your attitude? Before you answer, what would others say if they had this opportunity to answer? I encourage you to take a true examination here. As an officer, I hope my personnel have excellent minds and outstanding attitudes. But if I have to choose an “either-or” situation, without hesitation I would want their A.Q. (attitude) to be high!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remember the Sacrafice…..

Remember the Sacrafice…..


FDNY Memorial Wall, HERE

FDNY 343, HERE

Honor and Remembrance, HERE

Friday, September 10, 2010

Never Forget

Tomorrow is the 9th anniversary of the largest and worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. Almost 3,000 people died, including many fire, law enforcement, and EMS personnel.

Take a moment on 9/11/10 to remember the victims aboard all four of the aircraft, the victims at the World Trade Center, the victims at the Pentegon, and especially the firefighters, police officers, EMTs, paramedics, and other responders who gave their lives.

"Never forget" also means that we need to remember and support the responders, steel workers, and others who ruined their health working at Ground Zero.

"Never forget" means that we will not forget those who survived and who carry the physical and mental scars of that awful day.

"Never forget" means that we need to remember the enemy that conducted that attack, know who that enemy is, and vow to eradicate that enemy while not blaming innocent people who happen to share appearance, nationality, or religion with the terrorists who conducted this attack.

Never, Never, Never forget.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Observing 9/11

In my opinion, it matters not that entire departments will choose to observe 9/11.

What matters is how YOU intend to observe it.

On Saturday, I will ride my motorcycle to Springfield, IL where the Illinois Firefighters Memorial sits.

Approximately 20 feet from that memorial sits a large black granite marker dedicated to those who gave their lives on 9/11/01.

I will sit on a bench with my father’s military-issued Bible and read passages that bring me comfort.

I will contemplate the events of that horrific day and how it has affected me personally, because how I feel is deeply personal.

It may not be right, but it certainly is not wrong. It is not a jump off point for debate. It is what it is.

I am not going to the memorial to meet up with like-minded individuals. No cameras; no sound bytes; just me with my thoughts.

You see; there doesn’t have to be throngs of people to make it somehow feel right. They were not with me on that day. I was alone in my car when I heard the news on the car radio. I was listening to Bob and Tom and Christy Lee broke in with the news.

At first; I thought that it was some kind of a twisted joke. Then, I thought that it was some bizarre accident.

It was only when I reached my destination and got to a television set that I knew what we all know today. And my confusion soon turned to bitterness that ANYONE would dare to attack us on our home soil. I couldn’t wait for President Bush to declare war on the terrorists.

Yeah; call it “revenge”. Call it payback. I tend to think that we needed some sort of justice to right this wrong. The senselessness of this attack by radicals called out for it, in my opinion.

How we feel and what we believe is our right. Sometimes, you cannot mount an argument for how we feel; we don’t want or need the debate. It’s one of those “agree to disagree” moments.

It isn’t a political or religious belief. Events have shaped our opinion. Our way of life and the liberties that we enjoy as a free country makes us a target by those who oppose it.

As a people, most of us are not opposed to how others choose or how others are forced to believe what they believe, as long as their beliefs don’t clash with ours’. And when I say “clash”, I simply mean that we remain tolerant of each others’ beliefs.

But, when those beliefs swell into hatred and that hatred turns to violence, then a response becomes not only imminent, but necessary.

We have become a nation that is so concerned about doing what is politically correct that we have forgotten about US. Tolerance is a two-way street and we expect that other cultures will treat us as we would want to be treated. Sorry, but that is not the real world. Countries that have no desire to understand us or our way of life will always be on the periphery to watch us fail and if given the opportunity may even participate in an attempt to destroy us.

And you and I cannot in our very limited roles as citizens in this country persuade others to not bring harm to us, because what they have in THEIR hearts are personal to them. They don’t wish to argue or debate that. It is what it is. They will not walk away, believing to “agree to disagree”. It goes much deeper than that.

So, we put our trust in our elected leaders to make those choices and it may be a response that we are completely opposed to on a philosophical level. We cannot change the way that they think or what they believe. We can only defend ourselves and hopefully, that will not change the way that we choose to live our lives. We don’t have to fear them, but we certainly need to keep our eyes on them.

Take note that I have resisted using the term “enemy”, because quite frankly, I think our country is still somewhat confused over exactly who is the enemy. At one time, I thought it was Osama bin Laden and his followers. It sure looked like it after 9/11, but then, we took a detour into Iraq.

In the meantime, North Korea and Iran have been building their nuclear capabilities into what could become a viable threat to our national security and with that a return to the days of the Cold War.

We should never forget 9/11 and we should also never forget that there are those who may look to repeat it or worse.

And I take that both seriously and quite personally.

Never forget.

TCSS.

The article is protected by federal copyright law under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella. It is written and submitted by Art Goodrich a.k.a. ChiefReason. This article or any other article submitted under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella cannot be reproduced in ANY form without the expressed, written permission of the author. Violations are punishable by applicable laws.
Please visit: www.fireemsblogs.com and my blog www.chiefreasonart.com.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Endeavor to Persevere

Some very simple quotes to think about...


What Ever You Do In Life Will Be Relatively Insignificant to the Rest of the World....,
But it is Most Important You Do It Anyways….


Live as if You Were Going to Die Tomorrow….
Learn as if You Were to Live Forever…

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What a Difference… A Minute Can Make


Have you ever recognized what a difference a single minute in your life can make? Most of us only count down the minutes at the end of the day near quitting time, or when we are waiting for a big event. We never really recognize just how important every minute is because every minute makes a real difference. It is important to remember that for everything there is a season, a time for every activity. We need to make sure we are using our minutes wisely

Be Aware of Critical Moments
A critical moment is when you make a decision that has a critical impact on your life. These can include fire ground decisions, career decisions, attitude decisions or decisions on choice of words. These may last only a few minutes, hours or days. Sometimes these decisions may have impacts that last a life time. Most of our decisions are made in a rapid fire mode and are impacted by attitude. It is important to remember that attitudes are choices or decisions we make.

Some Individuals would look at a pile of rubble and say “what a mess” while others will look at the same pile and say “what an opportunity”. At this moment there is a critical decision going on. Which one of these individuals would you want leading the fire department in your community? Most would say the one who has a vision of what that “mess” could be. I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in the great State of Vermont training with a group of outstanding emergency services professionals in Addison County. What a breath of fresh air. The amount of energy that was delivered to my starving body was incredible from spending just 48 hours with such great fire service leaders. I was able to reflect upon 50+ years of leadership legacy that was still going strong. That’s right; the fire chief of Vergennes Fire Department the late Ralph Jackman had been the Chief for 50+ years. The best part was he looked at everything in a progressive, proactive philosophy of saying “look at that opportunity”. He understood that every minute made a difference and he understood these critical moments and the importance of a positive attitude even when the chips were down and things were not going as he may have hoped or wanted.

As individuals and leaders of the fire service we must look at opportunities with vision. We must be able to decode the “mess” into “opportunity”. It is paramount that we focus on the concepts that it shouldn’t be this way, but we can make it something else. These are truly hectic times we live in, times that can challenge even strongest of seasoned leaders or firefighters.

Regularly ask yourself three (3) questions…

1. Who and what is influencing me?
There are many individuals and things that can influence you. Subsequently you must ask yourself if these influences are positive or negative. Many times your influences can be strong positive ones while other times they can be the negative ones that you fall victim too. It is important to have strong positive influences in our lives. Remember ever time you choose to follow an influence it is a critical decision and becomes a critical moment in your live. “
“Choose wisely Grasshopper”

2. Where does my mind naturally go?
What are you thinking about when you have free time or where does your mind drift off too frequently. Where your mind goes will have a big influence on critical moments in your life. Make sure that the place your mind is visiting is worth being there!

3. What am I passionate about?
What do I really like in life is another way to say this. Well often times when we get to this level of soul searching we can see that we have things a lot better than others. Often times it is a big reality check that we realize we are not following or doing our passions. It is important to make sure that your passion is not a negatively impacting one as well. Remember everything is influenced by our attitudes; you should always be reminding yourself that your attitude is like a disease and is yours truly worth catching.

Don’t Miss Opportune Moments
We should all be reminded just how brief our time being alive really is. None of us will live forever. We are merely moving shadows and all our busy rushing ends in often times nothing. Opportune moments don’t have to be big successes, but can be as simple as learning how to do something new. We are all busy and miss the opportunity to celebrate great moments. So with all this rushing around and what we are missing let’s look at what happens when you get in a real hurry or act in haste…
• You feel stressed.
• You lose your joy...simplified your laughter, special times and moments of impact.
• You are less productive.
• You can’t hear or see anyone.

So if you don’t want to miss opportune moments or act in haste you need to slow done. You may ask, “how do I slow down"? Remember it is important that you work hard but take time to rest as well. I recently was out to eat lunch. A group of pastors were at this restaurant as well. I heard one of the pastors state I always remind my congregation that the Devil never rests, another pastor asked since when did we start following his lead. Silence fell on that group for a moment and the first pastor replies wow I never looked at it like that! So what are some helpful hints to get you to slow down?
• Participate – Go and do more with family friends, colleagues.
• Delegate – Don’t put that big Superman “S” symbol on your chest. It usually doesn’t signify you are “Superman” but more like “Stupid man”
• Procrastinate – Stop and think before you act or speak, often times take more than just a second in this case. I see great leaders take days, weeks and months to act on items to keep from making poor decisions.
• Eliminate – Eliminate all the bad influences, attitudes and passions

Please don’t waste your minutes…they may be running low and you don’t even know it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Meeting A Messenger On A Mission!

Blogger’s Note: In the very near future, I will be doing an in-depth blog on hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide exposures to firefighters. This blog centers around my meeting with one of the fire industry’s pre-eminent authorities on hazardous materials and especially the “Toxic Twins”.

I can’t remember ever posting a blog that included pictures, but I had the privilege of interviewing two stars at Fire Rescue International in Chicago last week. One interview was on the floor of the convention center and the other was done in the friendly confines of the FirefighterNetcast booth.



On the left side of the first picture, you have me. As you can see, I tried to dress to resemble my profile picture in my blog spots so that I would be readily recognizable. While I was at the FireRescue1 booth getting my free T-shirt, they had their website up on a big screen and wouldn’t you know it; they had the bloggers page up and on MY blog. In that picture of me, I am wearing a white shirt and tie. People in line were looking at the screen and looking at me. They did it a couple of times and then I took my hat off to screams of “that IS you”. True story. I still giggle when I think about it.

On the right side of the picture is Steven Pasquale, who has done Broadway, movies, released a jazz CD and also played Firefighter Sean Garrity for the entire run of the Denis Leary hit TV series “Rescue Me”. Steven’s star power was being lent to Meridian Medical’s rollout of the new Cyanokits®. I was thrilled when I was asked to interview him and his co-star, whom I will mention momentarily, but I was only allotted 15 minutes, so my questions had to be short and focused. But his handlers had never dealt with ChiefReason before, so I was able to get about 25 minutes with both of my guests.

And besides; I had my crew with me-John Mitchell and Rhett Fleitz, my producers and Willie Wines was our photographer. We had the manpower edge and used it to my advantage.

The gentleman in the middle of the photo is Rob Schnepp, simply an amazing man. Steven Pasquale is fascinating, but Rob is amazing. Knowing that I could not tap the surface of this man’s expertise in a 15 – 20 minute sound bite, I had Rob scheduled for an interview in the podcast booth.

None of this would have been possible without a lot of help and coordination from Shawn Longerich, Executive Director of Cyanide Poisoning Treatment Coalition. Thank you, thank you, Shawn.

That said; let’s get back to it.

Rob has a passion. It is hazardous materials. Within that, he has a passion for the hazardous effects of smoke on civilians and firefighters. You literally turn on the EveryReady Bunny® when you ask him to talk about the effects of cyanide and carbon monoxide poisoning on firefighters. He is not Barney Fife with one bullet in his pocket; not even close! His resume’, his accomplishments and his published material is far and wide on topics of hazardous materials.

It makes perfect sense that Rob would be involved with the only FDA-approved cyanide antidote kit that is available in this country. We talked about the importance of quickly recognizing the symptoms of cyanide exposure, introducing the victims to the antidote and getting them to a hospital. Our time together flew by.

Don’t get me wrong; Steven Pasquale is a multi-talented entertainer and at 33 years old, he has accomplished more than many entertainers almost twice his age. I would compare him to Clint Eastwood, but Eastwood hasn’t done Broadway…yet! But then, Steven informed me that he doesn’t write, so they equal out and the comparison holds merit.

And Steven Pasquale’s appearance at Fire Rescue International on behalf of Meridian Medical makes sense. Steven clearly understood the importance of delivering cyanide antidote as quickly as possible, so his advocacy on behalf of firefighters is appreciated.

But, the “go to” guy for the Cyanokits® is Rob Schnepp. How they work, when to introduce them and the importance of pre-hospital care for symptoms of cyanide exposure are topics that are easily discussed with Rob.

We completed our work at Meridian’s booth, my production team left to return to the FirefighterNetcast booth and I hung around to get feedback. I found myself eyeball to eyeball with…Steven Pasquale. Honest to God; we stood there and talked for about 45 minutes on a wide range of topics and I might share those thoughts in a blog down the road.

Rob and Shawn showed up for the podcast at mid-morning. Rob would present on the topic of smoke to an afternoon audience.

The podcast went very well, but I feel that we merely scratched the surface of this man’s deep reservoir of knowledge, which is why I have every intention of having him on my show again in the near future. In the picture, Rob is again in the middle and FFNetcast producer John Mitchell is on the right.



Rob, keep spreading the word on the Toxic Twins, brother.

Even if that is one leader/one safety officer at a time.

The message is much too important to wait for some to come to their good senses.

The educational supplement “Smoke: Perceptions, Myths and Misunderstandings” from the Cyanide Poisoning Treatment Coalition is must reading.

Oh; and remind me to tell you about my conversation with Bobby Halton.

TCSS.

The article is protected by federal copyright law under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella. It is written and submitted by Art Goodrich a.k.a. ChiefReason. This article or any other article submitted under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella cannot be reproduced in ANY form without the expressed, written permission of the author. Violations are punishable by applicable laws.
Please visit: www.fireemsblogs.com and my blog www.chiefreasonart.com.
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