[This is Travis Dotson’s “Ground Truths” column that appeared in the 2022 Winter Issue of Two More Chains.]
By Travis Dotson
I have very little to say—although I never let that stop me from running my mouth. I am not the only one who suffers from this affliction.
But there are folks who DO have important stuff to say—hard-won insight from real-life events.
Let’s consider a few things that happened in 2021:
In Idaho someone pointed a gun at the Helibase Manager.
In South Dakota a trailer came unhitched and dumped a Marsh Master on the highway.
In Washington a firefighter was burned while scouting the fire edge.
In Minnesota a sawyer was cut when the chain catch failed on their saw.
In Missouri a faller had a tree go the wrong direction and smash into a shed.
How do we know these events occurred? Because in each instance, someone involved chose to write down what happened and share some key take-aways.
Why would they bother to do this? Maybe they were forced into it. Maybe there is something therapeutic in recounting a scary experience.
Maybe they genuinely want to help their sisters and brothers avoid potential harm.
Maybe it’s because we’ve been hounding our workforce for 20 years to invest in a learning culture.
Why am I even bringing this up?
Because of the comments we hear, like: “No one reads them”, “There’s too many” and “They don’t work”.
Some people wonder why anyone would care to hear about another close call with a tree. This seems odd.
Imagine sitting around the campfire while someone is telling their close-call story and the person next to you interrupts with: “Shut up. Nobody needs to hear about this—it serves no purpose!” That would be rude. And inaccurate. And likely result in knuckles to the nose.
“We often make sense of what happened by investing in the hope that our experience can be helpful to others.“
Sharing our stories does serve a purpose. And sometimes the purpose is simply the telling. We often make sense of what happened by investing in the hope that our experience can be helpful to others. Sometimes it’s just a cautionary tale told to new hires. Other times we are compelled to share it with a wider audience via the written word—all in hopes of our personal experience serving a greater purpose. We all want what we went through to matter. Especially if your life flashed before your eyes as the truck you were in went belly up!
As the little screen in your hand buzzes and your action hero thumbs swipe and jab at the multitude of demands on your attention, you may indeed be annoyed by another RLS recounting the latest fuel geyser event. Fine. Swipe left. If you don’t want to read it—don’t.
But please remember that each event has people we care about in the bullseye. Your fire family is just being human in wanting their moment to matter.
Same Team, folks. Let’s support those who share their stories AND those who choose to listen.
Swing on, Toolswingers.