Compelling video captures compelling plight

It can be difficult to make civilians understand the difficulties fire and EMS responders face; a well-conceived video is one option

Editor's note: After watching East St. Louis' video showcasing that department's difficulties, Chief Adam K. Thiel weighs in on the value of such moves.

Wow! This is, without a doubt, a compelling video about a fire department and community facing serious challenges.

I've commented before about the need for fire departments, and firefighters, to effectively communicate with the residents they serve about their departments' capabilities and limitations. Obviously, with the continued impacts of the late economic recession (and now federal budget sequestration) being felt around the United States, this need has perhaps never been greater — certainly not for decades.

The ability to easily shoot, edit and widely share high-quality video offers a great communication medium and gives people who have never experienced a fire or emergency incident a better perspective on what firefighters face every day. At the same time, it's vitally important to provide a background story, context and narrative that complements the visuals.

The next time you watch, read or see a story like this one, take a look at the reader comments. I always find it interesting to see how different people — with varying backgrounds, experiences and opinions — interpret what often seems to be a relatively unambiguous message.

Think about how you might craft a message that answers their questions or addresses their concerns. And, if you have something constructive to add to the conversation, go ahead and weigh-in.

Stay safe!

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