Innovation & Decontamination Day

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I’m home from an amazing vacation. More on that later. Many thanks to my guest authors who are freaking awesome.

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Since we had a security scare in NYC, this past weekend, I thought I would tell you a crazy story. On one of my flights home from Purdue, last week, I sat next to a guy who worked in the ’emergency response’ industry. I don’t know what that means. EMTs? Firemen? Police officers?

All of the above. Terrorism. The Muslims.

He (allegedly) consults with the government and companies on issues related to security and strategy. He told me that elementary schools are Al Qaeda’s #1 target. They are poised for biological and chemical attacks. I told him that I didn’t believe him. From what I know — and it’s not much — our biggest threat is home-grown terrorism. Crazies in Michigan. Pennsylvania. My own family. The ones who refer to our president as ‘The Kenyan’ and openly hate the United Nations.

So this guy tells me that I’m wrong. Really wrong. He thinks we need to educate our children against a dirty bomb & biological/chemical attack.

Okay, I tell him. That’s a fine idea. How do we do it?

Here’s the answer: it’s the Smokey Bear model. Give these kids coloring books and tell them what will happen if they are exposed to chemical agents. Explain the decontamination process.

I say, “Most of the kids will die if they are exposed to these materials.”

The guy says, “Depending on the chemical or biological agents, they might not die. First responders can help those kids. They’ll need to get naked and go into decontamination showers.”

Then he asks me, “How do you break down that fear?”

I say, “You don’t. That stuff scares me.”

No, he tells me. You can make the experience less scary. The man suggests that we need coloring books, a mascot, and a school day where it’s hot outside and the kids come to class in bathing suits and the firemen hose them down like it’s a game. Make this an annual event. Decontamination Day.

I say out loud, “Yeah, first talk to the teachers’ unions. Then management. And oh my god, HR would have to plan this.”

So I tell this guy that his idea is horrible. Really bad. I wouldn’t put taxpayer dollars behind it. Reminds me of the old duck-&-cover strategy. Scare the kids over a fear that some bogeyman — either the Russians or an Islamic terrorist — is out there trying to kill them.

He says, “They are.”

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Innovation comes in all forms, people, but not all innovative ideas are good ones.

This one? Decontamination Day? It kind of sucks.

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