"Safety" and "Rescue":
There are Limits

By Bruce Smith, NSS #12458, (Harrison, TN)

As we have evolved, I have grown more sensitive to the use of terms, their meanings, accuracy, appropriateness, and correctness. Two words that cropped up and are being used inappropriately and do not accurately describe or identify items or situations. These two words are safety and rescue. More and more I hear conversations that follow something like this:

"When I arrived on the rescue scene in my rescue vehicle, I turned off the engine and set the safety brake. Grabbing my rescue gear, I moved over toward rescue command and was given directions to join the rescue team entering the cave. When I got to the cave, I put on my rescue harness, making sure I had all my rescue and safety equipment, and yelled, "On rope". I checked out he rigging and noticed a safety back-up with a double safety lanyard along with a safety line for the difficult lip. There was also another safety belay line which appeared to be rescue Super Blue. I clipped my safety to the rescue orange safety rope and attached my Rescue 8. I check myself out, had one of my rescue buddies check me out, unclipped my safety and shouted, "On rappel"...."

In almost every case in the above contrived dialogue the words safety and rescue could have been eliminated or items called by their correct names. Correct names are often more descriptive and leave very little to misunderstanding. Even though these two words started out year ago, primarily as nouns, there are places and time when they are appropriate as adjectives. I find them most offensive when used as adverbs. I think some of the improper use comes from equipment manufactures that attempt to type their products or make them sound better or more interesting than they are.

My concern in that when the real need for the word safety and rescue are needed they will not have the impact they need due to their meanings having been so diluted in our everyday speech. Surely, we can find better words or adjectives to describe the gear and situation that we encounter without overusing these two words.


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