Monday, August 27, 2012
Watching the Olympics this summer inspired patriotism and reminded me of just how much the athletes have to train and prepare for their events. The Olympians united the country with a fever that rivals football fans. It’s almost like Fourth of July with all the red, white and blue that was seen in our country. At our center, our managers allowed us to wear red, white or blue to show our Olympic spirit. Our televisions were tuned in day and night on all the sporting events and we all eagerly watch the medal count daily.
Just when you think that it’s impossible, another world or Olympic record is broken! These folks are definably the best of the best. These athletes work in teams and independently to gain their rewards. They’re dedicated, professional and goal-driven. They remind us what sportsmanship and hard work look like. They train countless hours to keep themselves in shape and ready to perform for the brief moments in the spotlight. Why do they train for years and years, sometimes for the majority of their lifetime, for just a few precious moments to shine and represent their country?
I couldn't help but compare these great individuals to the brave men and women of the public safety community. From the communications center to the field, everyday feats of heroism and bravery are accomplished. The calltaker that takes that extra moment on the line to reassure the crying child that help is on the way to the dispatcher whom relying on his/her instincts gives the field officer the information that he needed to keep him safe. Or the field officer that takes a violent offender off the street. These examples, and many more countless feats, are performed every day.
Think about it: Public safety personnel and Olympic athletes have a lot in common.
No. 1: Employment. We go through so much to get hired as a public safety professional. It’s not a simple process. They don’t just hire anyone you know. We go through background screenings, typing tests, hearing tests, drug and psychological checks, physical agility tests, and not to mention any certifications or academy hours that some agencies require. On occasion, this all comes at our own expense—and this is just to get a start date! You have to be willing to go through all the steps to achieve your goals of being a public safety professional.
No. 2: Training. You have the start date, but that’s just the beginning. We go through hours and hours of training and classes to hone our skills before we’re ready to venture out on our own. But our training is never really over. The countless hours of continuing education and re-certification that keeps us up to date and prepared to do our jobs seem endless at best. Of course there are also the elite athletes who go a step further. They’ll take extra classes or specialized training that will give them a certain edge. That certain individual will specialize in their craft to be the best they can be and be a subject matter expert, much like the standouts in the spotlight in London.
No. 3: Perseverance or dedication. Consider for a moment the commitment that’s required to get our job done. If we didn’t follow up on all the details, we wouldn’t last very long in our positions. For example: The open 911 call with no voice contact. The professional calltaker will use all the resources available to them to attempt to make contact with someone at that phone number. They will dispatch a unit to the location and research any possible hazards or priors at that location. The responding unit will do their best to find the phone and any persons with it, and also make sure there’s no distress or victim of a crime before they leave the area. Think about the K-9 unit. They’ll track and search until they accomplish the task at hand or are pulled by their handler to take a break for their own wellbeing. This may sound like a small example, but you can replace with any scenario you wish and receive the same results.
No. 4: Attitude and professionalism. As public safety professionals, like Olympians, we have to be confident in our abilities. We present an authority and a certain sense of ability that earns the trust of the public that we serve every day. We’re held to a higher standard. The public expects more from us than the average Joe—and we meet that standard day after day. We accept that responsibility gladly and hold onto that standard every day. Just like the Olympians, we go on duty with a winning attitude. We expectthat we’re going to catch the bad guy or rescue the victim and we expect that we’ll go home at the end of every shift. Our attitude determines our performance.
No. 5: Teamwork. Our ability to work cohesively as a team, as well as independently, is one of the most important aspects of our jobs. Fields units working a perimeter, SWAT or tactical/special operation units, dive teams, K-9s and their handlers, calltakers and dispatchers—we all have to be able to function as a team and do it well. Just like the Olympians, some events require a team to get the job done—and we have to be able to trust and depend upon on our teammates are going to be just as skilled as we are in order to reach our goals.
Our Olympians are amazing. When I watch these young people accomplish what they do, I can’t even imagine the pressure they must be under to perform for the entire world to see. Even for those that return home without a medal, I can’t help but admire. All the hard work and determination is truly inspiring.
I guess it just goes to show you that I was right all along. Public safety people are some of the most awesome people in the world. We accomplish so much with so little. We have pitfalls and we do have loses from time to time. But not giving up and continuing to serve our communities is what differentiates us from the norm. Just like the Olympians who stand above all their peers. We’re something to be celebrated!
Be safe, my family!