This week the South Central Task Force, SCTF, will be handing out its first ever Mrs. Smith Awards. What is interesting about these awards is that they are being given to those who work tirelessly on preparedness. Often when we think of awards for responders and those in the field of emergency management, these awards are given to someone who risked their life to save someone in a disaster. These awards recognize those that may never even be in the field, although many recipients are, as we all wear our multiple hats. These awards are for those that work hard and are dedicated to the task of preparedness. If you have followed this blog, or ever been part of a conversation with me, you know how highly I emphasize the need to do a better job at preparedness. We cannot allow our citizens to be reliant on us for all of their needs in times of disaster. The number of responders continues to dwindle, while the number of disasters and emergencies do not.
I know a lot of folks in the emergency services who bulk at the concept of receiving an award for “doing their job.” I have often been part of conversations in which a responder, who is receiving an award for some feat to assist with saving a life states, “I was just doing my job.” The best of the best receive these awards awkwardly and ask simple questions like, “why should I get an award for doing my job, many people go to work each day and do their job without any recognition.” While these conversations, and this post does not mean to downplay those heroes that have gone above and beyond, the firefighter who risked his or her life to save someone from an untenable position, or the police officer who put himself in harm’s way to prevent injury or death to an innocent civilian, we are talking about the routine. Unfortunately every time we give an award for the routine, it takes away from those most deserving. Having a “person of the year,” is always a catch 22, we honor one, but do we then turn off the masses that were equally as deserving?
I like the concept of the Mrs. Smith Awards because we are looking at those who go above and beyond not when the disaster strikes, but before any disaster happens. These are the ones that train hard even when no one else is watching. As I used to tell my son, and many of you have heard this one from your parents and coaches, “Champions are made when no one is looking.” These award recipients are those champions, the ones preparing and asking all of us to prepare for an event that may never occur. These are the people that talk the talk and walk the walk. These are the people who don’t need recognition, but deserve recognition.
All of the “Mrs. Smith’s” in the world can rest well and be thankful that people like those who will be receiving awards this Tuesday at the annual SCTF Homeland Security Conference are out there doing what they do, twenty-four/ seven to help all of us be better prepared no matter what the event and hoping the event never occurs. These are our insurance policies for disasters!