“A picture is worth a thousand words.” Words coined by someone long ago, noting that a single image can convey a complex idea. From the stories told by a Neanderthal through his simple etchings to our modern day capture of life, man has told his story through image. A moment in time or emotion of man has inspired, enraged, saddened and brought courage to those who see past the mere ink on paper (or pixels on screen).
What does any of this have to do with the fire service? Everything. Where ever you are your attention can be instantly transferred to another place or another time. A fire burns in Chicago as you watch in Dixon Wyoming. But your reality of the situation is skewed. Your mind can concentrate on the image not the sounds, the feel of the wind, the chaos of the fire ground and your elevated pulse rate fueled by adrenaline. Your attention placed on watching as others act, perform and make critical decisions. Their senses flooded, their bodies exhausted and emotions driving them. “Fight or Flight” is on the brink, which will they decide as you analyze and compare this image to what you would do in their situation. Time is on your side. Minutes, hours and days exist for you to react, then change your decision upon any new information you find. Those in the image, make a choice in a seconds time and must execute it right.
There are positives to the influx of media we have available to us. We are not seeing the fire ground as those before us. We must use image and video to see how fire lives, breathes and moves. Imagine yourself on that scene making a split second decision then acting in a manner as if it was happening now. Resisting the urge to cast stones without knowing all sides is difficult to do. As I recently fell prey to this very notion. Do not focus on what “they” do, focus on your response, your actions. Take these situations and build your personal slide show so when you are “that guy” you will have the advantage.
An image is worth a thousand words, those words can also be lies. Do we have the facts, do we know the situation? A photo can stir emotion and action. A video can be misguided as it is from a certain point of view. Consider the following when reacting to an image or video.
- Do not confuse peer pressure as conviction.
- Do not mistake genius for lack of talent.
- An image can be used to capture the moment or tell a lie.
- Our senses react to time and space. Behind a keyboard is in a different space then the operation.
- Absorb the intent of the captured image, why was this taken and what purpose does it serve.
- Consider your reaction before reacting. What compels you to act?
Our time is unique, continue to capture our world. Be an artist, find emotion and the human spirit in life’s canvas. As a Fire Service Professional document what we do and why. Use our collection of imagery to empower our people to be at our best. Perhaps the next image you see will tell the story of a Firefighter and their courage, bravery, honor, pride and conviction to help fellow man. Decide to advocate for positive change, if the opposite is seized.