Prevention versus cure
Ask the average Jamaican their views and they may unapologetically tell you that 'prevention is better than cure' is an obsolete and outdated way to look at life. In a generation characterised by anything goes and free-spirited mentality, individuals are more preoccupied with personal gain and gratification, and waste no time on the trivial issues of risk assessment and mitigation. After all, time is money and isn't money the answer to all our problems in these hard times? Isn't a moment not dedicated to the acquisition of the all-mighty dollar a wasted one?
As we seek to satisfy our insatiable appetite for financial gain and self gratification, we have paid scant regard to other important matters. The true meaning of worth has sadly been misconstrued and, as such, many valuable things are deemed unimportant. During the execution of my duties as a firefighter, numerous questions often plague my mind: Is human life one such thing that is on the verge of being or that has already been given the status of worthless? Do persons who knowingly engage in hazardous fire-related practices not cherish their lives, the lives of their mothers and fathers, their brothers and sisters, their friends and neighbours? Do they not understand that their actions could severely affect these persons' physical, emotional and even their financial lives? Or is it that since these individuals have no monetary value they are not even considered?
The importance of money in our daily lives is undeniable but we often fail to realise that in an attempt to capitalise on its value, we make decisions that nullify our efforts. Take into consideration the issue of fire safety and preparedness, one might argue that acquiring a fire extinguisher and smoke alarms for one's home would be additional expenses that are strenuous and unbearable. The truth of the matter, however, is that this expense would be insignificant in comparison to what would be necessary should this house be fully or even partially destroyed by fire, an occurrence that the previously mentioned items could easily prevent. Too often we have been 'penny wise and pound foolish' when dealing with fire safety and, as such, we have been paying dearly with continued loss of life and property. It is now time for us as a nation to wake up and realise that the reactive approach to fires and other disasters has way outdone its time and that it is in our best interest to embrace the wisdom from our past as we look forward to the cultivation of a prosperous future.
- Prepared by Jay Scott, Corporal, Jamaica Fire Brigade.