Community Risk Reduction “E’s”

In Community Risk Reduction, we are looking to make changes to reduce the risk we find within our organizations, business community, and citizens. We have many ways to do this. Jim Crawford, Project Manager for Vision 20/20, wrote an article in FIRERESCUE about The “E’s.”  We use various processes and programs known as the E’s to Educate, Engineer, Enforce, and Economically Incentivize Community Risk Reduction. What we are truly looking for is a change of heart and direction, not just a “Magic Pill.”

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Magic Pills

Let’s imagine a man goes into his doctors office. His doctor tells him he has diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. If he doesn’t do anything about these things, he will not have a long or healthy life. The doctor writes prescriptions for medicine to control his diabetes, lower his blood pressure, as well as his cholesterol. When he comes back for a follow up appointment, “like magic,” all of these areas of his health have improved. He is still obese, has a horrible diet, is an alcoholic, and poor sleep habits. Has the patient made the life choices to truly have a healthy life or was he given “Magic Pills”?

This is a fictitious example. I’m sure no one would only take “Magic Pills.” This treatment will extend his life, but has the patient taken any responsibility for his situation? Has he made any attempts at long term changes that will not require him to rely only on these “Magic Pills?” I fully recognize that every situation is different and some situations may require these “Magic Pills” indefinitely. The point is, the patient would be much better off if he took responsibility for the things he can control.

Do We Rely on “Magic Pills” in CRR?

Now let’s imagine firefighters knocks on my door. They are polite and ask me if I have a smoke alarm. I tell them that I don’t. They then offer to install one free of charge for me. I say, “Wait free? You mean I don’t have to pay for it? Of course I will take it. It’s FREE!!! Who wouldn’t take it?” They come into my house and install a brand new smoke alarm, clean up their mess, and are on their way.

Did the firefighters do a good thing? Absolutely! They have reduced the risk in my home. If there is a fire, I will be alerted and will be able to escape. Can this be a “Magic Pill” though? Have I taken any responsibility for my own safety. Have I truly made changes in my life that will continue to reduce my risk. If I had to pay for that smoke alarm, would I have had them install it? I do not mean to belittle any CRR activities. My point is, we should be looking for opportunities to help others help themselves wherever we can.

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Helping Others, Help Themselves

Some cannot help themselves and they should be one of our highest priority groups. The handicap, elderly, and poor fall into this category. They are dependent on our “Magic Pills.” When it comes to groups who can take care of themselves, use the “Magic Pills” to start the conversation on how they can transition to taking care of themselves. Stress the “why.”  When they understand the “why”, they are much more likely to take things seriously and take responsibility.

We should keep using “Magic Pills” in Community Risk Reduction, because they work, but encourage them to take responsibility for their risk reduction as well.