Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cold Facts

"I'm not dead until I'm warm and dead."

The ice rescue students briefly pondered my admonition, then resumed their hurried discussion about which of the two "victims" should be rescued first. On the one hand, Graham the Shark (who was the other "victim") continued to wave his arms and demand that the rescuers pull him from the icy water immediately. Why waste time on me, he reasoned, since I was unresponsive and likely beyond help.

That was when I decided awaken from my self imposed coma to invoke the "warm and dead" ice rescue maxim, which highlights the fact that medical practitioners continue resuscitation efforts on hypothermic casualties until they have been warmed to normal body temperature. Unlikely cases have been brought back from the brink in this manner. Only when they are warm and show no signs of life are they pronounced dead.

I don't usually step out of character during rescue scenarios because I like to give the students a chance to work through the process themselves. I made an exception this time partly to help them sort out their priorities, but mostly because I didn't want to be left floating in ice water while they hauled the Shark to shore. In the end, they decided that there was room on the Fortuna for all, and they rescued us both. And we all lived happily ever after.

Now it's time to leave the rock solid shore of personal experience, and drift off into the analogical whirlpool of a pseudo political shrink. Got your life jacket on? Here goes:

A federal election is like an ice rescue in several ways.
  • the "rescuers" (our venerated politicians) must prioritize, because there aren't enough resources to go around
  • the "victims" (us) must compete with each other for those limited resources . . . because there aren't enough to go around
  • there is a good chance that some of us will be left out in the cold
  • the squeaky wheel gets their attention, deserved or otherwise
  • playing dead might evoke momentary sympathy, but won't likely lead to rescue (ie: funding)
We could turn this analogy around and make it really confusing . . . which is not unrealistic since we are talking about a federal election campaign.
  • politicians are the victims that need rescued from the ignominy of political defeat
  • we, the rescuers, can't save them all (who would want to anyway)
  • we should pick the one that is most likely to survive
  • the noisy ones aren't necessarily the best choice
  • none can afford to appear cold and dead, because sympathy doesn't exist in an election campaign
  • your gut feeling isn't always reliable
The bottom line, no matter how you look at it, is that we must take the bull by the horns if we want anything for volunteer firefighters. No one is going to rescue us otherwise.

When I get tired of this campaign nonsense, I take a side trip over to Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez's site for a reality check. In spite of the pleasure I get from satirizing our politicians, I admit in perspective that Canadians don't have much to complain about by comparison.

Speaking of bloggers, Brian over at The Damage is Done is having a tough go of it these days. His previous blog, Switch2PlanB, was the first firefighter blog that I followed, and he continues to hold a spot in my top bloggers list. Definitely worth a visit if you get a chance.

A final piece of sage advice from me, a newly trained and self appointed political ice rescue specialist: After the election, don't give up on the political process, even if your MP appears to be stone cold and lifeless. There is hope, even when all is lost. We just have to warm them up to our point of view. Remember, not even politicians are really dead until they are warm and dead.

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