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Possibility vs Probability

Are you a person that looks at the probability of a situation happening or do you think about all the possibilities of a situation. For an example as I pack my kid off to camp one way is to look of the probability of something negative happening versus what are the possibilities and how can I (or more realistically can I) plan for all of them to feel comfortable with the idea of sending him to camp?
Both are ways in trying to cope with uncertainty. Trying to balance what control we have versus what perceived control over the situation. In one the person has decided that they are going to deal with things that they think might happen or have a higher probability of taking place. They believe that it is more realistic to play the odds than try to keep up with all the scenarios. The possibility plan is trying to prepare for everything and have plans or at least an understanding of what steps are to be take to deal with the situation.
Which are you? Has it changed since you have become a chaplain or have you always been that way? As chaplains we tend to see more of the tragedy than others how does this affect our view or understanding of the world? How do we deal with that in the long term.
Let me know, add you comments to the discussion.



TV's New Glamour Job

An interesting article from the Star Tribune about the increased interest in forsenic pathology. It quotes many of the local Medical Examiners in the St Paul/Minneapolis Metro area. The television series CSI have brought the role of the medical examiner/investigators out into the light for more people to see. While the tv shows don't get every thing right about the job, they do get one thing correct. The role of the medical examiner/investigator is a very important part of the process of justice. They also provide an invaluable service to the families as they provide critical information, compassion, support and advocacy. We are grateful for the professional relationships that we have with the medical examiners/investigators.


Compassion Fatigue (Cost to our families part II)

This is a topic that is brought up frequently in my world. I hope it is because people are looking out for me and I believe that. It is also because people also see the affects that my work has on my non work life. When I was returning from a retreat with the men of my church recently, one of the other men looked at me and said my demeanor had changed. That I looked like something was wrong, my body posture had changed and I looked frustrated. This was after a weekend of retreat with no work or family responsibilities at all.

What I realized and I said that I was getting into my entry posture, meaning I was preparing for the worst to happen, unaware that I was physically getting ready to take the hit the world was going to expectedly give me. This is what I have been training my body, my mind to do, when walking out into the world, hunker down, get ready to react because the world is not going to give anything good to me for sure.

While I thought about this it came to me that I was carrying this posture into my general life, I have been preparing for the worst all the time. At first there is an adrenaline rush that you experience and some would say enjoy, but after awhile it just becomes tiring. What happens to me is that when I am home instead of being able to take in the sensory input of my children laughing, playing and perhaps at times yelling, I am sensitive enough it is painful to me and I react to that instead of enjoying those times with them.

I am told that recognizing that I have a problem is the first step in getting help to solve that problem. While I don't think I can undo the training and experience that I have gone through. I know that I can start to recognize what is happening to me as I walk through my day. In the beginning we train people to know what they are doing and to be able to do it under a lot of stress, which at times means doing it from the training and not thinking. I have been there and now I am looking at moving to the next level of being aware of myself at that time of action. 

As I continue on this journey I hope that you who have been there are able to encourage me and others along. If you are where I am join in with me and lets learn how to train our systems differently. For those of you who don't have an idea about this follow along and see what happens.




What did I learn?

This past January, 41 individuals were trained as how to respond to a Mass Casualty Event as Emergency Services Chaplains. On January 16th, 12 of us took part in responding as a part of Operation Curtain Call which was a Mass Casualty Exercise put together by many groups in the metro area of Twin Cities. The scenario had it that a building collapsed in downtown Minneapolis, which was a concert hall filled with students, parents and staff. Our job as chaplains was to provide support and care with those individuals that were either survivors of the initial event or loved ones of those involved in the event.

It was a very long day in which I learned quite a bit, below are a list of initial thoughts that I plan to expand on in the future.

1. Never assume:

As I would tell something to someone or they would relay to me a piece of information I realized how easy it was to assume and that it could quickly derail what you were trying to do. Ask clarifying questions, be very clear with instructions.

2. Just in time training does not include the phrase "Do what you do well.":

I used that with some of my chaplains and that was not helpful as I had something in my mind of what they would do and they were working through another understanding.

3. Clear leadership is critical:

When sending any group of people to take on a task, especially in crisis situations there must be a leader, who is responsible for the direction, goals and task they are to be working on. To assign a room to a group of people and not put someone in charge does not work. Where there is a leadership vaccuum, bad things happen, even a bad plan is better than no plan at all, as a bad plan can be fixed. 

4. Prepare, Train, Plan and Review:

As I mentioned we had recently completed training and had competent chaplains working with us that day. What I did not do, is review the plan the days before and give my chaplains all the information they could have had for the event. I did not spend time preparing, coming up with the teams and where I would want them to be,  how I would do just in time training with my chaplains. 


This the start of many conversations and blog posts, so I hope you will join me.


John LeMay


A new year to serve

As we enter into this new year there are many opportunities to serve those around us. One of those ways is to make sure to take care of ourselves. What steps are you going to do to take better care off yourself this year?