Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Adapt, Survive

There is a thin line between adaptation and verbatim. For years I have seen intelligent, properly trained, and devoted Firefighters take on new strategies (hard & soft environment) only to fail in the replication. The element that was lacking, adaptation. Personal experiences, too were foiled, as the plan was devised for someone else in another space. Even the smallest detail, if not adapted for the end user can cause less than expected results. Great consideration must be given to the means and methods used in our fire districts when reproducing policies, procedures, training methodology, and most significantly, emergency scene strategies and tactics.

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved." The Origin of the Species- Charles Darwin

The fire service will continue on, in various forms. Most honored and respected, our profession has gone through various evolutions through adapting to the needs of those who need us, those who look to us to do the right thing and at the right time. From buckets to hoses, horses to diesel, and suppression to ems, the fire service has adapted to survive.

The mighty hunter, the lion, will hold steadfast watching, plotting, and planning for the opportune time to strike its prey. Yet, when the chance presents itself to take immediate action, the beast has the abilities and instinct to strike. When the situation dictates a quick and early attack, because of all the planning and patience through past hunts, the lion knows its enemy and can fall back if needed to progress in another fashion. The hunter knows when to attack and when to defend. Adaptation equals survival.

This notion came to mind after spending the day at UL for the attic fire test. The group observed and studied the building while the fire took hold. The information that was collected and will be analyzed is in-valuable to the fire service. These experiments are an opportunity for us to hunt the enemy before we strike. The actions taken recorded, as reactions documented, then compiled for the moment when they are needed. This is adapting to survive in action.

There is a time and place for almost everything and anything. Our variations of interventions are plentiful and time tested. What we are seeing now is exactly what happens when we act that may have not been obvious before. We are adapting to survive. Some information supports what we already knew and reinforces why we do it, while at the same time reveals insight to erase the unknown for improvement and enable adaptation.

Our training programs and hiring processes have changed and must adapt to the workforce coming through our doors. Yet once again, verbatim may set you up for failure. Flashy gadgets, quirky catch phrases without substance and that adaptation for your needs are nothing more than passing trends. Be diligent in the implementation process and do not surrender the war because of one losing battle. Identify what needs improvement for next time. You may be surprised on how simple changes are the difference between win and lose, more so with battle hardened audiences and those who are not easily impressed. Adapt for survival.

Once again I will echo the words spoken already on the subject of social media and the ability to share insight at light speed. This connects us, brings us together, sparking thought, imagination and dialog among people who would have never connected before. Keep doing that. Do so with an open mind and sponge like characteristics. Understand that adaptation must occur as you are not exactly like them. Use the ideas, substance, and theories to put a plan in motion that works for you. As Darwin said, the grandeur is the endless forms, past and present, and the wonder of what will be evolved from them. What will you evolve through your adaptation?