The other day I was talking with a school administrator about their emergency training when he commented “We don’t really train, we tell our folks that when stuff like this happens…common sense kicks in”. While we finished our conversation on a high note talking about the value of good training for staff and students, I couldn’t get his “common sense” comment out of my mind.
When I think of common sense I think of an intuitive reaction to a situation based on knowledge, past experience and learned common norms. How does this apply to emergency preparedness Training?
- Knowledge, past experience and common norms can vary greatly for a lot of legitimate reasons. We can’t expect everyone to react the way we would. Experienced London drivers might find driving here in the U.S.A. a little challenging (as we would if visiting their country).
- A lack of “common sense” doesn’t mean a person is dumb or unprepared. It may simply be the result of someone never being exposed to a certain situation before. If they have had a limited life experience or were raised in a highly protected environment they may have never had to respond to a situation on their own. If you have ever taught a teenager to drive you know just what I mean.
- We have to be deliberate and provide training that helps develop knowledge, experience and an understanding of norms (in how to best respond) to a particular emergency. Again, think about the young, inexperienced driver a few year later, hopefully their driving skills have improved after developing more knowledge, experience and a better understanding of driving norms.
So next time someone tells you “it’s just common sense” stop and think about that for a moment. Let’s not leave emergency preparedness training to the “hope” that everyone has had the opportunity to learn, experience and understand how to properly respond when bad things happen. After all, if life was just common sense, who would ever stick their tongue on a frozen flag pole in the middle of winter?
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