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Friday, October 22, 2010

What is the Risk Anyways?


Am I crazy or does this make any sense? I work for a large federal government agency. They manage all of the national parks and national forests in the country. In fact they employ over 40,000 people to do all this work. A large task to say the least.

As a government agency we could be targeted in a terrorist attack. Besides that, many other accidents or unexpected disasters might occur. Due to this we recently had a safety meeting to inform all of the employees of what would be the best way to face an emergency.

It seems like safety is an important concern to the government. They do not take it lightly. We listened to an ex-policeman speak about fire extinguishers and how to use them. He explained what to look for to make sure they are in good condition to even use.

He talked about what to do if someone would enter our building with a gun. He described several scenarios about how to react to a fire, a bomb, some other emergency.

Obviously this information is very important. Many of the topics he spoke about were very interesting and I would have never thought about them if he did not mention them.

The only thing I have to say about this is that the probability of something like one of the scenarios he spoke about happening is probably in the range of 1 out of 10,000 or maybe even less than that. Even the chance of being in an airplane crash is only 1 in 400,000, so this kind of event is about 40 times more likely than that.

I think my reasoning is quite sound. Sure the events of 9/11 did happen but that was once and only in relatively few areas of the country. The explosion in Oklahoma City also did happen but that too was a one of a kind event and confined to one building in one city. Fires and crazy people returning to the work place with a gun happen often enough, but still out of over 150 million people who work in this country only about 15,000 have been in a situation like one I described above.

That's 0.01% of the working population. Of course it's a lot better to be prepared for an event like this but in reality it's unlikely to happen to any one person in their lifetime.

The probability of someone actually dying from avoidable causes like heart attacks, stokes, cancer, and many many other preventable diseases is about 1 in 3. This is a fact, about 33% of the population dies from a preventable illness. These people seem to be so concerned about a possible event that might happen to 1 out of about 10,000 people when they totally ignore the reality of one third of the population dying of a completely avoidable and reversible disease.

The obvious ones who are most likely to be striken are the obese and the ones who have a tobacco habit. Still many people who look fit and trim and do not smoke are just as likely to be candidates of one of these preventable illnesses.

I think that having safety meetings is important but there should also be some education for the people who are on a path to causing themselves worse harm just by their choice in lifestyle.

Anybody agree?

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