Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 13

Romans 12 v 1 – 13

Searching through an old briefcase from my Nottingham City Council days I uncovered a multitude of memories and experiences. I found the case in the roof space a couple of days ago and I’m still going through it. I came across one particular file of papers that would have had a relevance to the present Coronavirus crisis and I wondered what I would be doing if the crises had erupted 30 years ago.

As part of my responsibilities at Nottingham I was a member of the emergency planning team. Emergency planning and response fell into three levels; Yellow level (predominantly field officers), Amber level (senior service managers), and Gold level (Executive Officers), I was a member of the Amber level team. Although in actual fact I was only called out on one occasion, relating to flooding, we still had to embark upon regular and comprehensive training.

Unlike much of the management training at that time, the emergency planning training was very good and very interesting. It usually consisted of three days locked away in a council chamber with all members of the planning team, council officers, police, fire service, ambulance etc., and on some occasions specialists e.g. armed forces. We were put through a series of personal challenges, followed by team challenges and on the last day, a simulated disaster exercise.

I recall one particular session that did not turn out how we expected and because of that it remains in my mind even now.

Day one started as usual with each delegate being given a bag of bits including nuts and bolts etc., and a set of instructions. The task was to follow the instructions and build whatever the resulting object was. This was no problem for me who could complete MFI flat pack without having bits left over.

Day two started with a similar exercise, but the bag of bits did not include instructions, we had to work it out for ourselves and build the object. This was not easy and I admit that I struggled. The object was obviously a sphere but just how to assemble the pieces correctly beat me. I sneaked a quick look at everyone else and noted that we were all the same, except one delegate who was sitting back in his chair, the completed sphere on display.

He was a trainee civil engineer and only attended the session because his manager was off ill. At coffee break I asked him how he worked it out so quickly. It transpired that on leaving university without a job, he spent time at Dyson (vacuum cleaners) in their design and development section assembling bits into balls. Today’s exercise was bread and butter to him.

On the final day we had our simulation exercise. A large Ordinance Survey Map was spread out on the table and in a circle around a small village to the North of Thoresby Hall was an aeroplane crash. Each of our groups had to retire and consider our response and actions and be prepared to report back to a plenary session in one hour. At the appointed time we reconvened in our plenary session. The emergency plan had sprung into action and teams had organised fire appliances, police road blocks, ambulance triage centres, water tankers and even a fire foam appliance commandeered from the RAF. It was impressive, until someone asked a question; it was the trainee civil engineer ex Dyson ball maker.  Could anyone tell him the laden weight of a fire appliance, water tanker and fire foam appliance from the RAF? The answer came back as being around 25 tons each, but why did he need to know?

He explained that he had recently surveyed that area of Nottinghamshire and there were three pack horse bridges on routes into the village that can only bear a 5 ton load. There was no alternative route into the village.

The room went strangely quiet until the convenor said, ‘well ladies and gentlemen its back to the drawing board’.

The point is that faced with a complex and confusing situation as this emergency all the skills, expertise and knowledge of the team members are important and to miss out on any item of information could cost lives.

(Romans 12 v 1 – 13)

Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome was written to prepare the way for a visit that he was proposing to make to the churches there. He was anxious to promote unity and cohesion among the Christians in the infant churches which were in danger of being threatened with divisions between Jews, Gentiles and other traditionalists in Rome. His letter takes up such themes as, service to God, the duty of Christians to care for each other and using the personal skills and gifts bestowed on each other.

Paul compares the skills gifted to all of us by God, to the human body.  The body consists of many different parts which work separately but it’s when all the parts work together in unison that the body functions to its optimum.

We are the body of Christ and by working together using all the skills that God has given to us we can succeed in defeating the present emergency and bring the light of Jesus Christ into the darkest of lives.

Derek T.