Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Blame Game.

I'm off topic but I can't not write about this.  A plane crash landed at the airport I use most often.  Three people died - three very young women.  Dozens more have severe injuries and are recovering in hospital.  Over 200 more walked away physically unscathed - how they are faring mentally is an entirely different (unacknowledged) topic.

Initially there was jubilation that so many survived this horrific event.  It is the stuff of global nightmares.  Watching scores of people slide down the emergency chutes and run away to safety was miraculous and uplifting.

Then the blame game began.  The relentless media pursuit to find someone to accuse.  It quickly emerged we could blame pilot error.  One younger pilot in training for this type of aircraft in particular.
Then we were told we could also comfortably judge his more experienced co-pilots who were supposed to monitor and supervise his landing.  We got to read transcripts of the conversation between air traffic control and the pilots so we could pinpoint the exact moment the pilot's action caused the plane to crash.

Once pilot error was firmly established the thirst to point the finger moved on - seemingly unquenched.
Next the response times of the first responders was questioned.  The number of ambulances on the scene.  The 90 second delay before the emergency chutes were deployed.  A fire chief had to stand in front of the media and explain her decision to instruct her crew to hold.

An emergency response plan was written in an office by experienced fire crew.  They wrote it using information gleaned from prior crash landings at other airports around the world.  They wrote it with the goal of saving lives but not adding to the toll by sending crews rushing up next to a potentially enormous bomb.

I believe that if you have never been in a situation where you might die or where your actions might cause another to die you have no idea how you might respond.  You can write a plan on paper, you can practice drill after drill but the real situation will likely bear no resemblance to those drills so practice is only practice.  An attempt to prepare for the unimaginable, the unthinkable the unpredictable.

Why are we so focused on blame?  If we can assume the media are answering the questions we want answered - why are we asking those questions?   What is the gain?   I feel confident that every person directly connected to this event will be affected for life.  Those who responded, who made the decisions, who piloted or crewed that plane will think about their actions for the rest of their lives.  They will scrutinize themselves in far more detail than any reporter ever could - so why the need to identify them, pursue them, criticize them, harass them, humiliate them?

Mistakes happen.  We should endeavor to avoid them.  We should learn from them in attempt to prevent them happening again but unless they were willful I don't see the need to persecute for them.
I wonder if it adds to the hurt.  If it breeds anger and prolongs grieving.

To add insult to injury a well respected local news station reported the names of the pilots.  The names were false and were mocking. I imagine that in their frenzied desire to get a media 'scoop' several people including an experienced news anchor failed to see what was so plainly in front of them - a juvenile prank.  It speaks volumes to me about what is wrong with our media and how it contributes to fear, anger and aggression.

What would knowing the name of the pilots do for us?  Theses were not terrorists - there was no willful decision to harm.  There was error - a distinctly human trait.  Some people choose to do a job that carries a high level of responsibility.  They chose to put their lives on the line.  If they were sober, if they were doing the best they could - we have to accept the outcome.  No matter how painful.  Planes crash - you can chose whether to fly.

Rather than criticize the pilots, the crew, the medics - let's turn our scrutiny to the media and how they report.  Let's review what we need to know and what we don't.  Details will always emerge and those with a personal interest can have them.  The world at large may need to exercise some restraint and discretion.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave me a comment.