Simpler is better
The best day of the week is Saturday. It’s not because I don’t have to endure my normal three-hour roundtrip commute to downtown Chicago — though that would be a reasonable guess. Rather, it’s because Saturday is when I take my dog to the woods near my home and let him run off the leash, which happens to be his favorite activity.
He and I do this year-round, regardless of the weather. It generally is early morning when we go, well before most of the world around us has arisen. It’s a peaceful time, when I can be alone with my thoughts.
During these lengthy hikes, I often think that life is most enjoyable when it has been reduced to its simplest forms and becomes less enjoyable with each additional complication.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: While technological advancements have brought to market an avalanche of productivity tools and entertainment options, it also has accelerated the pace of our lives to the point where most of us are stressed out much of the time. From my perch, it’s not a trade-off worth making — simpler is better.
Given this perspective, I was happy to see the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials support the Department of Homeland Security’s National Incident Management System (NIMS) recommendation that public-safety agencies abandon 10-codes in favor of plain-talk language.
Of course, it will take time and considerable effort to retrain first responders and to standardize the language, which will be particularly important during incidents where multiple agencies respond. But it’s an effort that is worth making, as simplifying the terminology used by first responders on the scene makes sense and is long overdue.
What doesn’t make sense is the resistance to the transition emanating from some public-safety agencies. As writer Doug Mohney reports in this edition (on page 72), many agencies are stubbornly hanging on to their 10-codes, with politics and parochialism too often acting as the driving forces.
The same sort of thinking has stymied regional consensus on interoperability for too long, to the point where many involved with public-safety communications are calling for the federal government to intercede and mandate a national interoperability plan that everyone would have to follow. Perhaps DHS should consider the same approach and turn the NIMS recommendation into a requirement.