“Do The Right Thing”…..for whom?

The phrase “Do the right thing” is often heard in our modern life. It can be heard in a variety of places but certainly around the kitchen table of any firehouse. There are all sorts of meanings for this and I want to tell you today that much like “beauty”, “do the right thing” might be in the eye of the beholder also.

There has been a minor accident with the apparatus and at the kitchen table we hear the driver and other members say ” I hope that Captain “does the right thing, here”. Hmmm, just what exactly do you think they mean? Would the captain “cover” them, hide it from the deputy or the chief? Is that what they mean?

There has been a patient treatment error in the back of the ambulance and the driver says to the attendant in charge, “you need to do the right thing” about this incident. Is he suggesting that he knows something went wrong and he wants his partner to self report it to the ER Doc or the OIC on the job?

There is a horrible economic crisis and the fire chief has been ordered to make dramatic cuts to the department. The members are all around the table and say ” I hope the chief does the right thing” about these cuts. What is the expectation….the chief will fight for the appropriate level of fire protection, the chief will refuse a directive from the mayor and citizens, or the chief will do the best he can for the safety of his personnel and the taxpayers, and live to fight another budget battle for the department.

You see as I look at the phrase in the fire service world, it could mean any of the following examples:

Do the right thing for the member involved.
Do the right thing for the department as a whole.
Do the right thing for the union or volunteer or call association.
Do the right thing for the citizens and taxpayers.
Do the right thing for yourself and your family.
Do the right thing for the good of the entire fire service.
….and many other examples.

My point is, if your action does not fit in any of the categories above, then you are probably not doing the right thing. If it only benefits you and your family, then you might be a bit selfish and it may be good for you but not good for the organization. A good solution is some compromise that fits as many of the above categories as you can. That means you might be leaning towards doing the right thing.

We have all seen examples of firefighters getting into trouble and in many cases the thought of how any action might be construed or perceived, never enters their mind.

Try to “do the right thing” even when nobody is watching, it will always pay off in the long run.

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com