Advice to anyone who wants to work with me in the field:
1) You can be useless, but you must be willing.
2) Render yourself unfit by intention or stupidity, and you'll discover I'm not a nice person.
Examples: Drinking heavily the night before your shift and being too hung-over to function. Injuring yourself while violating a well known safety rule.
3) You can't get in too much trouble for doing what you think is right. First, if you are paying attention, you're likely to be right. Second, paralysis in a crisis is not endearing.
4) I don't expect any better from you than from me. Watch me to learn what that is.
Note: I sleep fully dressed, showered if possible, with my gear laid out where I can find it in the dark. If I have to wait for you in an emergency because you are terminally disorganized, expect to get the crappy jobs every time. If you are the sort of person who can't find your way out of a closet in less than 15 minutes, expect to get left behind. And if you are left behind, it's your own damn fault. You still have to get to your assignment. I suggest hitchhiking or begging.
5) Fast is slow, slow is fast. Remember that. Sometimes you can save yourself a world of grief by thinking before acting. Ignore the pressure to do something right away.
6) If you find yourself isolated, I expect you to continue the mission to the best of your ability until told otherwise.
7) Corollary to #6. You should know the mission and what your part is. Ask if you don't.
8) There is a time and place to debate the details of the operation. Take advantage of it. There is a time and place to zip your lip and soldier. Work on being able to tell them apart.
9) Sometimes "because it's our assignment" is the only reason. I don't always like it either.
If all of this sounds a bit harsh, realize that an emergency environment is a harsh place.
Dale Austin, August, 2006
All images and text Copyright Dale Austin, 1962-2008