15%

Vance Larson
3 min readSep 9, 2023

I was in a meeting the other day at the local Health Department. We were discussing what it is like doing outreach with the new team members. It didn’t take long to get into the dark side. The side that most will never see. For many people join the team, because it feels good to help someone. As I by far have the most experience in outreach, first response, crisis and mental health work, I shared that the horror stories that we were talking about, only happen about 15% of the time. 85% it can actually be quite boring. But that 15%…

That 15% that has you walking in on an overdose, suicide or mental health crisis. Or perhaps a young women who is being trafficked. Add a few medical emergencies, and for good measure, the constant threat of violence. While I belong to 3 different outreach teams, 2 are unaccompanied. In other words, there is no QRF {Quick Reaction Force} on standby. Our only help is a call to 911. Needless to say, things can go south real quick.

We were talking about what training we would like the new team members to get. I reminded them that training is necessary, even though 85% times we encounter nothing, and are left scratching heads and tanning. But then that 15% pops up. That is when I told the group of the old Chinese proverb. “It is better to be a warrior in the middle of a garden, than a gardener in the middle of a war.” In other words, it is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Life is like that. There are always things we can do to prepare ourselves. But we don’t. We think the unthinkable won’t happen to us. Let me let you in on a little secret. It does. And it’s coming. If it didn’t, I would be out of a job. I say this not to scare you. I say it to prepare you. There are so many things that we could do that take little effort, that could save us years of misery. And I’m not just talking about personal protection and safety. It could be financial or health related. The point is, none of us will be getting out of here unscathed.

Before my wife became disabled years ago, we were avid hikers. We’d hike almost every weekend. It didn’t matter the weather or terrain, we’d go. We hiked in places where we would rarely see anyone. We hiked in weather that we definitely should not have hiked in. But…here is the thing. Our survival skills were getting pretty good. On top of that, we both were in excellent physical shape. But real talk, it didn’t matter where we hiked. In most circumstances, I hiked with at least 30 pounds of gear on my back, with my wife carrying additional supplies. Overkill? Probably. Under prepared? Never.

So here we are talking 15%. When I was younger, 15% wouldn’t even get my attention. Hell, I’d take a 15% loss rate in Vegas. But when it comes to my life, team and health…you won’t get the jump on me. My street IQ is through the roof. Because at the end of the day, I am going home. That is my mission. And you can be damn sure that I will be prepared.

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Vance Larson

I am a retired crisis counselor of 20 years. I share my experiences {both personal and professional} about thought provoking subjects. Follow me.