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by Phil Davis: A chief's perspective of fire departments

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The game is "ON"! You just don't know when
December 17, 2012
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Most of the college football teams that are scheduled to play in upcoming bowl games finished their regular season weeks ago. How are they expected to be “up for” and ready to play a game that is so far away? In preparedness aren’t we faced with the same dilemma? How do we stay sharp and game-ready when our “big one” is so far away? Or is it? That’s the challenge for emergency managers—not knowing when your next big game is. If we knew our disaster schedule weeks, months or years in advance,  we would be the most prepared, motivated and competent disaster workers. Of course, but that’s not how our game is played.

I recently read that one of the college coaches asked his football players if they wanted to practice football or play whiffle ball? They chose whiffle ball and the coach was OK with that. Let’s think about why that kind of activity was productive for a college football team preparing for a bowl game and how that parallels training for a disaster.

  1. It is fun
  2. It is a divergence from the pressures of the game
  3. It creates team camaraderie and competition
  4. It’s not the same old training—it’s different
  5. Odds are, no one is a whiffle ball expert and so they are all learning or relearning how a whiffle ball moves and therefore, how to play the game

Nothing beats on-going training, exercises and drills in the world of disaster response. People don’t care how smart you are… they care whether or not you can perform the tasks they need done. People are counting on you to be good—to be competent in whatever your job requires. My old friend, retired fire chief Ronny Coleman taught me that you don’t experiment on the public. The public expects and deserves for you to be ready—to be all-risk ready.

No one likes redundant, boring, repetitive training—so spice it up—have fun—do something different for your team. They will appreciate it.

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