Be a Safety Leader…Join the JPMF’s Wolf Pack
Pink Gazelle Productions Inc is a proud supporter of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund (JPMF), a charity committed to raising public awareness about workplace safety issues facing emergency responders.
The JPMF was started in memory of Cst John Petropoulos, a police officer who died in the line of duty after after a preventable fall at an unsafe workplace. John’s widow is Maryanne Pope, CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Board Chair of JPMF.
The JPMF is seeking safety-minded partners to join their Wolf Pack. By joining their pack, you are committing to the safety and well being of first responders and your own workforce.
For more information, click here.
Protecting the Line
By Maryanne Pope
The warrior fights because he believes that he is fighting for something good, something positive, something that will improve the quality of the world around him.
— Richard J. Machowicz, Unleashing the Warrior Within
Last month I attended a seminar in Victoria by the trainer, Brian Willis. Brian’s presentation was entitled Harnessing the Winning Mind and Warrior Spirit. The intended audience for this particular seminar was police officers, peace officers and military personnel. I am, of course, none of these.
As a writer, the chance of me getting into a gunfight any time soon is slim.
Interestingly, however, I was the one taking the most notes during the seminar – eighteen pages, to be precise. For a writer, the nuggets of wisdom gleaned were pure gold. And I’ve attended Brian’s seminars multiple times over the years. But every time I hear him speak, I not only learn new things, I’m also reminded of ideas I’ve already learned but have forgotten.
During last month’s presentation, one new component that Brian has implemented into his seminar, since I last heard him speak, was a clip from the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund’s (JPMF) Put Yourself in Our Boots safety video: “The Story of John” part.
Just in case you’re a reader who doesn’t know my background, I was married to John, who was a police officer who died in the line of duty in 2000. John died from brain injuries sustained after a preventable fall at an unsafe workplace, while investigating a suspected break and enter. There was no safety railing in place to warn him of the danger.
After Brian showed the clip from the Boots video, he went on to explain to the group what the JPMF does in terms of raising public awareness about workplace safety issues facing emergency responders – and why our safety messages matter.
“We cannot measure what we prevent,” he said, matter-of-factly. “But let me tell you this, the JPMF is saving lives and preventing injuries.”
So there’s me, in the back row, madly scribbling all this down. I’m the Board Chair of the JPMF, for God’s Sakes – I’m supposed to know this stuff like the back of my hand!
And I do – but hearing someone outside the JPMF articulate it, in such a powerful and succinct way, was extremely insightful.
A little later in the seminar, this quote appeared on the overhead screen:
Spartans excuse without penalty the warrior who loses his helmet or breastplate in battle, but punish with loss of citizenship rights the man who discards his shield. A warrior carries a helmet and breastplate for his own protection – but his shield is for the protection of the whole line.
— Steven Pressfield, Gates of Fire
Clunk…another truth hit home for the writer in the back row.
This is exactly what the police officers who started the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund did (and still do today, along with many other people): they chose to protect the line.
For to them, to have let John’s preventable death go unaddressed would have been akin to discarding their shields – because what happened to John could happen to any police officer.
And then I thought further: what is a police badge but a smaller version of a shield? And how did those police officers start the JPMF? They had memorial pins made that had John’s badge/regimental number on them – and then sold the pins to other officers, friends and family.
Today, the JPMF is a charitable organization that educates people about how and why to make workplaces and roads safer, so as to help ensure emergency responders make it home safely to their families after every shift.
In other words, the JPMF is like a modern-day shield that serves to help protect the line of police officers, firefighters, peace officers, paramedics, etc, so they can do their job.
Here are three ways you can help:
When Our Body Says No
We’d Be Wise to Listen
I’ve heard it said our soul speaks to us in soft whispers. And my mind certainly has no problem communicating to me through that nagging little voice that says, “You probably shouldn’t do that…”
Now I’m learning to listen to what my body is trying to tell me.
Last October, I went back to Calgary for Thanksgiving – and to give a workplace safety presentation at a company.
The presentation itself went fine. I’ve done an awful lot of them now.
But I do remember thinking, “Hmmm…I wonder how healthy this is for me, telling people over and over again about the circumstances that led to John’s (my husband) death?”
The next day I had my answer, delivered to me through my body. I was sick as a dog with the flu.
The presentation itself didn’t make me sick. The actual flu bug came courtesy of the female passenger hacking up a lung next to me on the plane to Calgary. But I bet it was my body’s weakened immune system that let the bug go to town, once the stress of the presentation was over.
I did a lot of thinking that lousy Thanksgiving weekend, spent entirely on my mom’s couch. And what did I suspect my body was telling me?
ENOUGH! STOP GIVING PRESENTATIONS ABOUT JOHN’S DEATH – IT IS MAKING YOU SICK!
The soft whispers and nagging little voice hadn’t done the trick. But sickness sure did.
And so, I promised myself that weekend to ease up on giving presentations. I would commit to giving one or two a year. In fact, I’m presenting at a Victim Services Conference in April. But that presentation is a personal one about the emotional and psychological effects of grief, so it is best delivered by me.
The workplace safety presentation, on the other hand, does not have to be delivered by me.
But the presentations themselves do still need to be delivered…because they work. People in the audience are impacted by the story of Johns’ death – and get the message loud and clear: make your workplace safe for everyone, including emergency responders who may have to attend.
Other members of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund (JPMF) also give these workplace safety presentations – but they can only give so many, due to their work schedules.
So…we did some brainstorming and came up with the idea of hiring a professional speaker to deliver the safety presentations. Then we pitched the idea, of setting up a professional speaker program, to a potential funding source and voila! Within a week, we got our first round of funding to hire our main speaker.
And we found a perfect gal for the job…someone whose passion is, strangely enough, public speaking! She is chomping at the bit to do her first presentation on March 7th. She’s even married to a police officer.
So what I’ve learned is this: it’s almost as if the universe was just waiting for me to a) say the word (NO!) and then b) take the next step of asking for help.
For it was only when I got out of the way and stopped doing something I didn’t enjoy doing, wasn’t particularly good at, and took a tremendous amount of time and energy away from the things I do enjoy doing (and am better at, such as writing) that the right person – and the funds – could fall into place.
And here’s the best part: the professional speaker program means the JPMF will now be able to deliver hundreds of powerful workplace safety presentations in communities throughout Alberta – versus the handful we were doing before.
Is there anything you are doing in your life that is no longer healthy for you? If so, what would happen if you stopped doing it…and let someone else give it a try?
We can’t do it all. We’re not supposed to.
And as I’ve learned, sometimes it is only when we finally admit we are not necessarily the best person for the task or job that the right person gets a chance to step up and get it done – with passion, purpose…and a profound appreciation for the opportunity
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the Board Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. The Fund is currently seeking corporate & industry sponsors for the professional speaker program. Please contact Ian Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org - and help us get the number of preventable workplace injuries and fatalities down.