Knowledge Does Not Have To Be Lost

KnowledgeI used to be a flooring contractor. As a firefighter, I had to have a part time job to make ends meet. We did custom work for around 17 years. Now it physically hurts me too much to do the work, and I have to contract out work at my own home. Not only does this just irritate me, it has taught me a valuable lesson – one that my friend Buck has been hammering me about for years.

Because of a water leak, we were forced to do some remodeling in our home. I wanted to salvage some of the wood floor in the front of the house and use it in what used to be our kids’ rooms. That way the back of the house would all have the same flooring and the main room would be changed out. In essence, I would salvage and save about $2,000 worth of existing flooring.

While not a simple proposition, I know how to do it and, back in the day, would have easily managed such a project. Since I cannot do it now I had to find someone who could. We managed to find a contractor who said he could do the job. He has been in the business for 30 years, he says. We talk and he understands what I want to do and seems like he knows how to do it. The next day he gives me an outrageous bid and tells me he is unsure he can do the job but will try… “Forget it,” I say; we will just spend the extra money and put down new flooring. That’s two grand wasted because of his lack of knowledge and confidence.

Later that night I start thinking about how I would have done that job if I had been asked to do it. It would have been pretty simple. All you have to do is X, Y, Z. I know how to do it. It is not something most installers would normally run across. My experiences over the years with the various products we installed gave me the knowledge and ability to do it and do it right.

I have been teaching the same team for over 30 years. I get new members every year and have to start over each time. Those team members who have been around for a while know the basics well enough. But back in the day, we were a lot more active. We made numerous dives and had three active training days a month. Back in the day, those divers were extraordinary. Back in the day, because of the time we were afforded, I was able to teach more.

In the realities of today’s economy, we are no longer afforded the same amount of time for training. We are still tasked with the missions and expected to perform.

Our teaching dynamic has changed. We now find ourselves doing on-the-job training, and I find myself teaching more on mission scenes than ever before. It is not what we would like but it is what we have to do.

Our current team is good. Not great, but good. They are able to do the job they are called on to do and we augment their lack of training time with extra supervision on mission calls. Sometimes it is not pretty, but they get the job done and they do it safely. On those dive calls, I find myself sharing tips and tricks more than teaching. They know the basics and what I am able to offer are techniques or tricks learned over the years that were never taught in a class. More importantly, some of the older divers on the team are doing it as well.

We found a way to continue to build our team’s awareness, experience and education despite the lack of formal training hours. It is not perfect, but we are finding that even though the new divers are gaining experience slowly, they are learning. The team is good and on a path to be great.

Buck keeps hammering me about getting out and around more and sharing knowledge about Public Safety Diving. He says it is our responsibility to share our knowledge with others so it will not be lost. He does not mean just me, he means ALL of us who have been doing the job for more years than we want to remember. If those tricks and tips we learned by our own trial and error die with us, we leave nothing for those who come after us.

What have you shared lately and how did you do it?

Tell your story and send us an email to:

Mark Phillips ERDI 12472
Editor / Publisher
PSDiver Monthly

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