In community risk reduction (CRR), 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, using processes and programs known as the E’s: education, engineering, enforcement, emergency response and economic incentive. What we are looking for is a change of heart and direction, not just a magic pill.
Let’s imagine someone goes to his doctor for a checkup. His doctor tells him he has diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol; if he doesn’t deal with these things, he will not have a long or healthy life. The doctor writes prescriptions for medicine to control his diabetes and lower his blood pressure and cholesterol.
When the man returns for a follow up, like magic, all of these areas of his health have improved. He is still obese, has a horrible diet, is an alcoholic and has poor sleep habits. Has the patient made the life choices to truly have a healthy life or was he given magic pills?
Of course, this is just a story. I’m sure no one would just take magic pills. This treatment may extend his life, but has the patient taken any responsibility for his situation? Has he made any attempts at long-term changes so he won’t need to rely only on these magic pills?
I fully recognize that every situation is different and some situations may require medication indefinitely. The point is that 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’ll take it. It’s free! Who wouldn’t take it?”
They come into my house and install a 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 don’t mean to belittle any CRR activities. My point is that we should be looking for opportunities to help others help themselves wherever we can.
Helping Others Help Themselves
Some cannot help themselves and they should be among 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 why; when they understand why they need to take these steps, they are much more likely to take things seriously and take responsibility.
We should keep using magic pills in CRR because they work but encourage those in your community to take responsibility for their risk reduction as well.