There is perhaps no more important trait for those working in high threat mission critical environments than humility. When the margins for error are thin and the consequences are high, operators must be extremely careful to respect the conditions they encounter and to fight the temptation that they have mastered “it,” whatever “it” is. Confidence is fine, but it must be tempered with an understanding of our own weaknesses, our own faults, and a constant desire to keep striving forward rather than arriving.
I care deeply about humility because I have so often lacked it, and have had to face the consequences of operational pride. This won’t be the last comment on this theme, but we’ll start with the MVC shown here. I was a few years in, and thought I knew a thing or two. I’d taken the classes, took the craft seriously, but lacked experience and rested on my laurels. This accident changed all that. The 11 year girl on her way to school in the front passenger seat was heavily pinned, and I was running the extrication on her side of the vehicle. With limited equipment and even more limited know how, I was stuck. She died before we could complete the extrication, and I was left wondering what had just happened.
This event led me to design my first piece of rescue equipment. I never did anything with it, and one of the major Extrication Equipment Manufacturers read my mind and put out an almost identical product a few years later. But the fire had been lit. It also taught me that there is always more to know and more to learn (If you don’t know what cross ramming is, go look it up).
You will have successes, but we learn best from our failures. Embrace your failures instead of suppressing them. That is often how we best gain experience, learn, and improve for the next time. You cannot improve if you do not admit that improvement is needed. Train hard. Build confidence. But make sure your confidence is coupled with humility. What events have humbled you? Feel free to share.