Prevention is better, and easier, than mitigation. Agree? Maybe?
We often get confused by the difference because they’re both used to reduce a risk. Put simply, prevention tries to stop the event from happening in the first place whereas mitigation and tries to limit the damage.
Getting proper driver training is preventative. So are reversing cameras. They help you to avoid an accident. Driver airbags, crumple zones and guard rails are mitigative; they try to reduce injury once you lose control. Both play an important role in trying to keep us safe. But if I could only have one, I’d prefer to drive safely than crash and take my chances with airbags.
The same principle apply to our aquatic centres. Prevention tries to stop the drowning from occurring and mitigation tries to limit the injury once it begins. Sometimes mitigation can be so effective that it produces an outcome with no damage. A person can be rescued, resuscitated and make a full recovery.
But if you’ve ever responded to an emergency you’ll appreciate how difficult it is to work under these extreme conditions. Adrenaline is pouring in, fine motor skills are non-existent, emotions around you are on high and every decision is critical and time critical. Then there are the variables of individual emergencies that are difficult to simulate in training.
This is what mitigation is like; critical decision making and action, under hostile conditions.
Compare this to a preventative measure like a parental supervision program. Comfortably dressed, you’re standing in the customer service area of the foyer having a friendly conversation with a parent and his kids about active supervision. You’ve got plenty of time, you’re happy and relaxed and often able to be really effective in influencing their behaviour and attitude toward supervision. If you need to you can continue the conversation tomorrow.
Which environment would you rather work in? Like the airbags, why would we take our chances?
Both prevention and mitigation are essential for demonstrating due diligence. In the last few years we’ve begun to realise the impact that soft skills can have on reducing drowning incidents compared to the heroic image of a lifeguard diving into a pool fully clothed.
I think prevention is better, and easier, than mitigation.