As firefighters, we all know what triage is. Simply put, it is the sorting out of patients so the outcome is the greatest good for the many.
I am a huge fan of what the internet and social media has done for the fire service. Speaking for myself it has allowed me to create this Blog, create the podcast, and the Firefighting Today Weekly Roundtables, and Training on Demand among other things.
My point is that the downside of social media is how quickly and how fast things are flying at us. My informational triage sort of looks like these four categories: Facts, Opinions, Both of these, neither of these. Lets take a look. This triage can be used for social media discussions, sitting around the firehouse table, or even at organizational meetings.
Facts are just that. They are statements that are true with out much dispute. There will always be people who disagree with facts but facts will usually stand on themselves. The sky is above us and the ground is below us. Facts. Now someone will say, what if I am hanging upside down or something. One of the good and bad things of the fire service is the phrase “What if?” It is really good on the fireground and during size-up and preplanning but in discussions it is most likely used to “argue” a point. If I present enough “What ifs” I can persuade you and prove my point.
The old phrase is that everyone has one. We are very possessive and righteous about our own opinions and it clouds us from actually seeing the facts in some cases. Yours and my opinions, while they may be string beliefs don’t necessarily have to be factual. Most of the social media discussions and current events are based upon differences of opinions. This sometimes has value if it remains constructive but can be very destructive and devise it if remains unchecked.
Both of These
There are times where facts and opinions can coincide but it many cases they are not crystal clear. Many good debates use a blur and a mixture of facts and opinions to prove their point. We need to “diagnose” a little further when we triage these.
Neither of these
Generally this situation occurs with someone very uninformed or they are they result of a deliberate action because the person doesn’t know or care about the facts and just makes statements that can’t be verified or backed up. This can be deliberate misinformation to cause some desired result or just a lack of caring. I have seen both.
In a triage system, facts should be seen as GREEN. Easy to handle, require very little of our time and effort and will probably turn out OK.
Opinions can be seen as YELLOW. They should be measured and monitored and the outcome still is not certain.
Both of These are RED. They require a lot of effort and they should be diagnosed quickly because they have multiple issues and the outcome could be terrible.
Neither of These is a BLACK tag and maybe the best thing we can do is walk away and not expend any resources if our intention is to do the most good for the many.
Think about the information triage system before you engage next time.
Incidentally, in case you were wondering……This is only my opinion. ( Insert YELLOW tag here.