As an “emergency service”, its easy to think solely on the first response, the launch, the rescue focused on bringing those in need safely home to shore. Isn’t it what we all think about when one imagines a volunteer service like ours?
And yet, if we pause for a moment, this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Its the 10% that shimmers brightly above the surface of the water attracting all the attention. What one often forgets, is the dedication and commitment of those who may not have the luxury to be able to volunteer for those late-night emergency crews. The 90% that ensure we are the strong, sustainable organization we are today. It might be personal or professional but let’s be honest, the minutia really doesn’t matter. Their commitment to PARA Marine SAR, and volunteer organizations like ours, is no less visible or valuable than that of a member who have the luxury of time and the flexibility to attend as many calls as possible. In a “normal” year this might not be something one thinks about as our regular patrols will often “even out” the commitment a member might make. In a unique year like 2020, however, when our ability to tap into this valuable group of members is limited this distinction is often more visible than ever.
Of our 48 crew members, only 20 of them are currently “registered” as available for emergency crews. This means that they are ready and available for call outs should the need arise. For that we thank them but for this blog, frankly they are irrelevant. No today we want to focus on the “other” 28 members. An eclectic group whose dedication to our cause is no less apparent than those on the “front lines”. It includes a few front-line healthcare workers, others who might be at a heightened personal for family risk of Covid-19 contraction, or even just those that are slightly outside our normal area of reach for emergency crew. Is it something as simple as a mathematical variable that separates one member from another? Without question, the answer is NO.
PARA Marine SAR is strong because of its members and that strength comes from the collective energy of each and every member regardless of simplistic mathematical variables. We might only send out emergency crews of 5 these days but without question the strength of those 5 rests solely on the foundation of each and every one of our 48 members. And we believe this message is true for volunteer organizations like ours around the globe.
The intrinsic value of a volunteer organization is calculated in groups not individuals. One alone might be able to generate some interest but collectively the growth is exponential. Alone a violin might send shivers down your spine with its haunting sound, but an orchestra relies on an complex mixture of instruments and sounds, each one unique and yet critical, to transform a well written symphony into a story of legend, sprinkled with perhaps a hint of disbelief. And in a similar vein, we might individually weave our own “symphony” or sea shanty that would have you on the edge of your seat but without the chorus of other voices to electrify the magic it would surely sound hollow. One might never leave the dock on an emergency call out, but the value they bring to our organization is no less critical to our success. Like an orchestra, a search and rescue crew thrive on a mix of unique personalities whose synergy allow it to soar to heights individually unreachable. Its not simply the 5 who leave the dock to rescue the overdue sailor but all our members who have empowered our crews to do so with confidence.
So while we might celebrate and praise those that head out on the water in response to a call out, lets all remember that behind that specific crew is an army of volunteers who have committed their own time and effort to ensure that those 5 do so with the confidence that behind them is a crew of many anxiously awaiting their safe return to dock.