– Are accidents truly accidental or a matter of “natural selection”?

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I recently ran into an old friend who began his career as a paramedic and over time evolved into a manager of a city ambulance unit. We hadn’t seen each other in a long time so we sat down at a local watering hole to catch up on our lives. I’ve always found the work of paramedics and firefighters fascinating. It is more than just tending to a fire or simple accident. Actually, they see some rather bizarre accidents which they have to address. So do doctors working in hospital emergency rooms. I have heard some rather strange stories that would curl your hair. Some are hillarious sexual situations, others are gruesome accidents caused by the lack of simple common sense.

My friend referred to such accidents as “thinning the herd” whereby it seems certain people are preordained to face catastrophe. Keep in mind, my friend has over twenty years experience witnessing such accidents and has probably seen it all. Obviously the expression was an analogy to animal management whereby weaker animals are cut from a herd, either by accident or deliberately, so the stronger ones can survive and the herd can prosper.

I asked my friend to give me some typical “thinning the herd” scenarios and he enumerated quite a few accidents involving alcohol and drug abuse. This included habitual users as well as recreational users who went too far and accidentally killed themselves. They either overdosed, hit a telephone pole, or fell into water thereby drowning and causing emergency personnel to fish their bodies out.

He has also seen many motorcycle accidents, some involving older drivers, but most involving younger riders riding on “crotch rockets” weaving through traffic at warp speed. Such people may feel invincible, and often wear helmets, but such head gear is ineffective at high speeds where the body splits in two on impact. Sometimes, motorcycle and automobile accidents are so massive, it is difficult to identify the remains. Some are even scraped up with shovels. In most cases though, people could have survived if they just used a little common sense when they drove.

He claimed most of the “thinning” accidents lately have been those where people are trying to text and drive at the same time. He had no pity for these people as they shouldn’t have been trying to do both. Driving while talking on cell phones is bad enough, but texting and driving is worse. This phenomenon scares him as it is becoming more and more pervasive.

The most heartbreaking accidents he sees are those involving children who are either killed or severely injured due to some stupid accident caused by a parent, such as accidental gun shots, knife wounds, drownings, attacks by dangerous pets, such as snakes and other reptiles, and accidental burns in the kitchen. All of this because of unthinking parents.

When I accused him of becoming heartlessly callous by such accidents, he explained that after you start witnessing the same type of accidents over and over again, it is natural to become jaded. In fact, he preferred to be a little callous in order to properly cope with the accident. If he were to become too emotional, he would have trouble treating the victims.

Ever since he told me this, I’ve looked at accidents in a new light. Most of the local accidents I hear on television or read in the news can be classified as “thinning the herd.” It’s hard to be compassionate when people do not use their heads properly. The only real tragedy to this phenomenon is when innocent people are taken down with the “thinning” victim by accident. They are the real casualties here. Next time you happen to witness an accident, ask yourself if it truly is an accident or is it an act of “natural selection.” It’s hard to feel sympathy for someone who was the cause of their own demise.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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