March 4, 2021
Editor's Note: The column's writer wishes to remain anonymous.
Comment on reply from a member criticizing the article "How “Black Lives Matter” and Should Reinforce Our Values in the Realm of Emergency Dispatch," by Jeff Clawson, MD, and Matthew Miko
aka, A BIG THANK YOU!
Have we lost our basic decency? The basic human-ness that makes us great public safety professionals?
That this article, meant to acknowledge the broader problem of implicit bias and our role as emergency responders/public servants, cannot quote a black American without becoming "politically motivated" and "offensive" is clear evidence that it needed to be written. We must acknowledge our biases and triggers; and acknowledge that the lens we see through is not the only lens or the right lens.
Daily, I hear employees in our combined center make comments about someone who’s a “drunk”, or “they deserve it, they chose to do drugs”. As a recovering addict myself, I silently feel the sting of these comments, because 15 years ago they were me. I experienced this bias when I was left alone for seven hours in a hospital with a dislocated arm, hospital staff said there was nothing wrong with me. What they meant was that there couldn't possibly be because I was "just a drunk".
I hear bias comments about volunteer responders--that department x is "stupid", or creating a narrative around one particular responder with a bad reputation; that this responder is inherently in the wrong because “I know how (s)he is”. I am guilty of it myself. I’m not perfect. But at least I KNOW when I’m guilty of bias or stereotype, and thus can correct for it (or at least TRY) next time.
I applaud the article written by Dr. Clawson and Mr. Miko. It needs to be said. We need to stop the cynicism and complacency, and work on compassion, awareness, and perspective. If we don’t, in the coming years 911 will be under the microscope for our role in violence, inaction, or negligent behavior resulting in harm. We have an opportunity to correct, and if that responder cannot see beyond their narrow worldview, I think the Academy is better off without them.
A Proud Academy Member