We must stop this deafening and sometimes fatal silence…
When you see someone turn dangerously low and get away with it, you should… ?
- Tell the person next to you that this is the next person on the dropzone to femur in, because it feels so good to be right.
- Do nothing because it is not your business unless you are staff.
- Run up to them immediately and tell them that they are an idiot.
- Get their Bitcoin login.
- Walk up to them slowly and ask them if that felt scary. If they say no, very gently and respectfully talk to them about getting canopy training, and alert the staff that this person needs help.
As skydivers, we are part of one of the most tightly-knit communities in the world. We take care of each other. When someone needs somewhere to sleep, we hook them up with a place to crash. If they are hungry, we feed them. There is one thing, however, that we sometimes miss out on in terms of caring for each other. It is our honest and respectful feedback regarding safety issues – and this silence is deafening, and sometimes fatal.
This silence may be polite but it is part of the problem because, as we know, most accidents are completely preventable. Some silence appears to come from a sense of respect and honoring free will. Others say they have no business telling anyone what to do in the sky because they feel too inexperienced. Some people give feedback that is unheeded due to the aggressive manner in which it is presented (option 3) – the ‘Sledgehammer of Truth’ as I call it. Either way, if we do not say anything, or we are ineffective due to our failure to communicate, we have a degree of blood on our hands. This is our tribe, our family, and everyone is included in the pursuit of collective safety. Everybody matters.
When we see someone do something dangerous, we, the dropzone community, have a need. It is not just the person who is exhibiting the unsafe behaviors that is activated in the process, it is everyone on the DZ. Some need to learn how to fly more safely; others need to learn how to teach better; while others need to learn how to spot danger and pass the information up the chain of command. Sustainable safety is a culture, and we really are all in this together…
There are many ways to teach and the ultimate goal is the pursuit of changes that create greater skill, safety and sustainability. Some people may not be cut out to be your student, based on their learning needs or your teaching style. Don’t let that stop you. Find a new way to tell the story, or find someone else within your community who can. If we cannot reach the ones most in need of help, we all have a bad day. Driving home from the DZ knowing that someone left in an ambulance is a lousy feeling; one that can almost always be avoided through education and training.
Alone, we are vulnerable. There is metaphoric toilet paper hanging out of your pants in more ways than you know, and it is up to your friends to tell you the truth. The skill of passing sensitive information requires us to do so without flaring up the ego because, if people get angry, they stop listening. They justify why you are wrong and why they are right. Everyone wants to feel that they are a safe skydiver and that they know enough. This is clearly not the case, when we review the accident reports. If we keep the lines of communication open, and tactfully say something beneficial, we all grow together. We need each other. Loving skydiving means loving skydivers – and love requires us to tell the truth, with compassion and respect because, after all, that is what we want others to offer us. Give what you want to get.
Love is a verb.