Learning from history in public safety

Emergency responders need to become students of history. It’s one of the easiest ways to avoid becoming the subject of history repeating itself

History plays a role in nearly everything you do in the emergency services. The equipment and techniques you use have evolved because we have learned things from past events. I’ll bet many of you have certain policies and procedures in place because someone did something to warrant a new rule. 

To be a good steward of your profession, you need to be a historian. Read articles about historical incidents. Review reports that were written following significant events and imagine what you would have done in the same situation. Talk with your co-workers about what actions could have improved the outcome. 

The concept of learning from the past is nothing new. In the early 1900s, a famous Spanish philosopher wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Winston Churchill echoed those words decades later. 

But in public safety, we keep making the same mistakes and taking the same chances that have a long history of poor outcomes for our personnel. 

We consistently lose police officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel because they are not wearing seatbelts. Suicide among first responders has risen dramatically because we have ignored mental health. Heart attacks and strokes are killing our members every day because we haven’t done enough to address general health and wellness. 

On emergency scenes, the official reports often state the same root causes of serious injuries and death. Things like poor communications, inadequate accountability and lack of situational awareness are very common themes. 

At the end of the day, emergency responders need to become students of history. It’s one of the easiest ways to avoid becoming the subject of history repeating itself.  

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off. 

Get more tips from Gordon here.

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