From the Floor

November 23, 2012
Written by Jay Shaw
Nov. 23, 2012, Winnipeg – This blog is available for one day only. In fact, it is a full 70 per cent off of the actual value of what my normal blogs are worth. I’m not kidding! You’re getting such a deal that you should immediately do everything I recommend to get the special bonus at the end of this blog.

Now, I know you are excited, but please don’t line up at my house for the discounts. I’m not there; I’m actually out shopping for emergency services training supplies, equipment and courses that must be discounted for this special one-day-only mega-sale.

Ahhh! I’ve tried a few places now and no sales. I’m a little frustrated but I know that the national agencies that provide first-aid courses, CPR courses and disaster-preparedness equipment will have their stuff on sale – how could they not jump in on the biggest super-shopping day of the year? Wow, much to my chagrin, the folks at the Red Cross don’t have any of their emergency first aid kits on sale either, and the same goes for St. John Ambulance. CPR classes are regular price today, as well! There are a few out of date, old edition wilderness first aid books that are 15 per cent off, but I want the big Black Friday deals. I’m positive this day was about getting everything you really need for super cheap discounted prices. I know what is important and it has to be out there.

So, I went to the big tire store – a Canadian institution, don’t cha know! I know for sure they know what really maters and they will have the stuff I’m looking for, and really need. What’s that, I said to the nice young sales kid, your smoke alarms are not on sale today? Why, I replied? Oh . . . Nobody cares about that today, I replied as the kid informed me that he’d “seen that stuff on sale, but not often. It’s time to shop for Christmas, you know, get in the spirit, get some presents for the family, all the stuff that you really need.”

Stuff I really need, I thought, like another frying pan or video game console for my kids. I don’t think so. I politely said to the young sales associate, “I’d like to by my wife’s cousin a new carbon monoxide detector, she just had a new baby girl, it would be great if you could direct me to where the sale is on them?” The kid just looked at me. In all the flyers, all the radio and TV adds this week, I did not see one sale on smoke alarms, extinguishers, first aid kits, CPR/first-aid classes or emergency preparedness kits, and it saddens me.

Yesterday morning, as my alarm clock went off, the radio guy told me that an elderly man had died in a Winnipeg house fire. The radio station was reporting that the fire came in at around 2:30 a.m. and the couple (his wife is in critical condition) was found upstairs in the bedroom. The fire, according to the early reports, started on the main floor of the house and the radio guy asked himself out loud if the smoke got them, and construed to his radio audience, wondering aloud, that if there was a working smoke alarm, it may have helped.

The home house-heating season is upon us, where every year Canadian fire services respond to carbon monoxide calls and house fires from unsafe space heaters, overloaded extension cords, and furnace and chimney fires. Only time will tell, but how often will we hear this story this winter in Canada?

So you’ve probably guessed correctly that I think our mainstream ideologies about what is important are really out of touch. Our messages in fire, EMS and emergency preparedness education need to go mainstream. Can you imagine how awesome it would be if equipment, supplies, and training and education initiatives took the same marketing approach as retailers do during Black Friday? Think about the capacity building you could achieve if you could get a few thousand more smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and first aid kits installed in your community over this weekend? What would it look like if CPR and first aid classes were sold at major discounts in our communities during the holiday season? How amazing it would be to have a massive increase in resiliency through knowledge and training of our citizens.

I’m writing Santa a letter this year and asking that he give out smoke alarms in stockings, and gift cards for CPR classes. Maybe you should do the same, and we can all benefit this holiday season. And for your special bonus at the end of this blog, if you act now, and immediately tell ten people, who tell ten more people, that a CPR class gift certificate or smoke/carbon monoxide alarm makes the absolute most thoughtful gift, I will make sure I tell Santa you’ve been good this year in my letter. At least 70 percent good!

Jay Shaw is a 10-year member of the Winnipeg Fire Department and is completing graduate studies in disaster and emergency management at Royal Roads University. Jay also works at the University of Manitoba as a research assistant in the Disaster Research Institute. E-mail Jay at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and follow Jay on Twitter at @911writer.
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