I woke up today with nothing to do

Situational Awareness MattersIf you have visited SAMatters before, you know the mission of the site is to help first responders improve situational awareness by “Helping you see the bad things coming in time to change the outcome.”

Something happened today that I didn’t see coming and I’d like to share the story with you. Thank you for allowing me the latitude to veer from my mission of improving first responder safety… if only momentarily.

Wow! I woke up today with nothing to do.

Situational Awareness Matters!For those who may not know me, my passion is firefighter safety and I spend a lot of time on the road sharing my message with first responders. As it turns out, I had a free day on my schedule (today)… a day with nothing to do.

I slept in and slumbered on to the elevator to hit the free breakfast in the lobby of the hotel. When the elevator doors opened on the first floor, a guy was getting on with a luggage cart full of boxes… obviously wares for his trade. As the cart bumped over the threshold, two boxes fell off. I picked them up and, having nothing to do, decided to give him a hand and ride up the elevator to his floor carrying the boxes for him.

After checking out of my hotel in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, I headed for my next hotel in White Marsh, Maryland. I wasn’t far on my way on a rural road when I rounded the corner and there, in the middle of the road, was a small painted turtle.

Situational Awareness Matters!The position of the turtle allowed me to pass safely over it. I didn’t get far past it and my brain was nagging me with that worn story about the guy who threw starfish back into the sea (you know the story). Since I didn’t have anything to do, I turned the car around, went back, and safely shuttled the turtle to the roadside.

About an hour down the road I saw a car on the side of the road with a flat tire. I thought to myself: “Sucks to be you, buddy.” As I drove by I noticed the elderly couple in the car. I thought about calling 9-1-1 to summons them some help. Then, I thought, I don’t have anything to do today.

So I turned the car around and went back to help them out. Turns out, they didn’t have a spare tire or a cell phone. So I used Google to find a tow service and waited there for the tow truck to arrive. Then I gave them a ride to the garage.Situational Awareness Matters!

Before arriving at my next hotel I stopped at a Wal-Mart to get some “supplies” (candy) for the students in my class on Friday. While I was in the the Wal-Mart I saw a lady in one of those electric scooters the store provides trying to get a gallon of milk into the basket on the front of her cart. It was clear she didn’t have the strength to maneuver the 8+ pounds of milk into the basket.

Situational Awareness Matters!Since I didn’t have anything to do, I stopped to help her. As I finished my shopping and was checking out, she was in the line in front of me. Since I didn’t have anything to do, I carried her groceries to her car and loaded them for her.

Finally, I arrived at my hotel safely and checked in. As I settled into my room… I realized… This was not a day with nothing to do. This was a day chocked full of things to do but God did not reveal the agenda until the day played out. Wow… I am thankful for having a day with nothing to do.

Oh… I have to share the grand finale. After settling in, I went to dinner. At the completion of my meal, the waitress came over and told me an anonymous customer paid for my meal.Situational Awareness Matters

As you travel along life’s path, take some time to perform RAOK’s (Random Acts of Kindness). And remember… What goes around… comes around.

 

About Rich Gasaway

Richard B. Gasaway served 33 years on the front lines as a firefighter, EMT-Paramedic and fire chief. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree while studying how individuals, teams and organizations develop and maintain situational awareness and make decisions in high stress, high consequence, time compressed environments. Dr. Gasaway is widely considered to be one of the nation's leading authorities on first responder situational awareness and decision making. His material has been featured and referenced in more than 400 book chapters, research projects, journal articles, podcasts, webinars and videos. His research and passion to improve workplace safety through improved situational awareness is unrivaled. Dr. Gasaway's leadership and safety programs have been presented to more than 42,000 first responders, emergency managers, medical providers, military personnel, aviation employees, industrial workers and business leaders throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
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3 Responses to I woke up today with nothing to do

  1. Dave Balding says:

    Rich,
    Thanks for the account of your day- I found it inspiring. How would this world be if more people practiced what you suggested. I believe as a firefighter and fire officer, that we are here to help folks, in or out of uniform, busy or not. Stay safe.

  2. Michael Malley Safety Officer, Wissahickon fire company Ambler pa says:

    A real EYE OPENING show last night At LaSalle High school! Thank You Ive been a member of Wissahickon for 30 yrs. safety officer for 5 1/2. Finding more and more, its the “little things’ that will ‘get ‘ you!!

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