For those of you that have not read Chief Halton’s commentary in June’s Fire Engineering magazine “Is Making A Mistake A Crime?”, please take a moment to do so – trust me, it’s worth your time. My second illustration this month plays along many of the same lucid points made in his commentary and highlights the challenge we now face as emergency responders. We train, we rely on experience (both our own and those around us), and we study trade magazines, journals, and case studies, all to help us prepare for those split-second decisions that may save a life, or prevent one of our own from sustaining an injury. Unfortunately this is not enough in a scape-goat society where the need to feed a perceived gratification for justice sometimes outweighs common sense. Add to this a bandwagon of attorneys who are licking their collective chops at big dollar settlements, and you can see where the “system” has left the tracks.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes good does come from the justice system hammering down on our bad practices, negligence, and complacency – especially in cases where injury or death has occurred. Measurable positive change has come from these unfortunate events. The thorn in my side stems from the frivolous questioning of our decision making and actions for monetary gain. Isn’t our job tough enough without this keeping us awake at night, too?!