Last week I had the privilege to attend and speak at the 22nd Annual Fire & Life Safety Educators Conference of the Rockies in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado which was sponsored by the Fire & Life Safety Educators of Colorado (www.FireSafetyEducators.org). The conference was jumpstarted in the first opening comment by Einar Jensen from South Metro Fire Rescue that stated the whole reason everyone was there was to simply “get better.” I can’t think of a better way to start a conference!
The key note speakers, Emily Braucher and Wanda Omdahl, certainly presented different perspectives that challenged and pushed people out of their comfort zones. The third keynote speaker, George Keller, was moving and frightening as he explained the emotions and actions he took to do the right thing as he turned his own son into the police after discovering he was the country’s worst serial arsonist. The many breakout sessions were professional and I wish I could have attended all of them as I found every one enlightening and educational. The fantastic sessions I attended addressed:
The psychology of decision making in a crisis
Lessons from our devastating wildfires and mitigation principles
Statistical analysis being used to prevent injuries in children by focusing education on the greatest risks in specific communities
Upcoming legal requirements and challenges for emergency and contingency planning in Long-Term Care Facilities
The initial analysis of the public health implications of legalized marijuana in Colorado
In addition, the impromptu after dinner tour of the Estes Park flooding and recovery efforts by someone who grew up in the area was very eye opening (thanks Ashleigh).
For my presentation (Bridging the Public-Private Sector Gap in Preparedness), I wanted to focus on a different perspective for the conference audience since 99% of them represented public response organizations. My goal was to increase their awareness in regards to the differences between the highly structured public sector (fire, police, EMS, etc.) and the rather flexible, haphazard, and even non-existent approach (sadly) in the private sector in regards to preparedness and business continuity. I think one of the points that surprised many of them was the difference between their highly regulated organizations and the lack of legal or regulatory requirements for the private sector to plan and prepare for business disruptions or disasters.
It wasn’t all work with the (play money) casino night bringing a bit of fun to what otherwise was always very serious topics. I can now honestly say I’ve played poker against two actual clowns and lost my chips in the end to one (nice last hand “Patches”)!
Going through my notes a week later I can gladly say that I met many great professionals who welcomed me in their circle despite being the odd-ball from the private sector and learned about many topics I have less experience with. I highly recommend to my fellow private sector professionals (whether you’re in business continuity or disaster recovery) to look for similar opportunities to meet and learn from our public sector counterparts.
Overall, I know I can say I “got better” and hopefully I helped someone else say the same. I hope that I will be invited to present to the group again in the future.
Be Aware – Be Prepared – Be Safe.