Earlier this week, our family went to the Del Mar Fair, just North of San Diego. This fair is one of the most exciting in the country – and probably one of the most crowded. The crowd and fact that San Diego is the country’s number one vacation spot for the 4th, bring to mind concerns about active shooters. Interestingly, as we were standing in the line full of people, I noticed that they had recently installed metal detectors. I had never noticed them before – now they may have been there, but I don’t recall. Metal detectors are not entirely new for stationary public events, it got me thinking about how crazy it was to see them on mobile events, such as the fair. Which brings up a whole host of thoughts about perimeter security in addition to front entrance security, but that’s for another story.
Anyhow… as we strode into the fair, I could hear my children complaining about how they have to empty their pockets or put this or that on the table to go through the detector. My son asked, “Why do we have to do this, it seems so ridiculous!?!”
I simply responded, “This is the world you live in now.”
In that moment, I realized the totality of what I had said — the fact that the world has really changed now — When September 11th happened, people spoke about how it had dramatically affected the world and now it continues…
With the recent attacks in Orlando, Bangladesh, San Bernardino, etc… we are living in a world that is on the cusp of changing most dramatically. With the change in the current political climate close at hand, we are really, truly at a crossroads. It is surely a moment of awe and reflection. Being in this moment, I realized what I had told my son about OUR WORLD — that although there are some inconveniences we are putting up with, our liberty is certainly not restricted by a metal detector, but rather our freedom is being protected. And although I have nothing to back up the way I felt about going through the line, I have to say that it gave me some peace of mind.
It is always a delicate balance between freedom and security and so we need really to understand this different world, especially as EMS, fire and public safety providers, We always must remain vigilant and protect the public interest, while at the same time ensuring that their liberties remain.
This affects EMTs and Paramedics because they must attenuate themselves to notice and report suspicious behavior more frequently but they must also communicate with other providers in a manner which is more collaborative. The same is true of officers who must maintain security and control, but should also serve the public. Because that’s what public safety providers do – they serve the public.
What does it mean exactly to serve the public?
It means to provide for their security while at the same time advocating their freedom and liberty. It means to remain a person while in uniform – a vigilant responder, but one with personality and respect for civilians and their liberties.
We cannot lose sight of these values as we make our way into this new era – the world is in your metacarpals.