Idea-gen Exclusive Interview — World Police and Fire Games

Ideagen Exclusive Interview
Dave Rohrer, Richard Bowers, and Dianne Katsakis Quebral
World Police & Fire Games

For any listeners who might be unfamiliar with the World Police & Fire Games, could you please describe the event and its goals?

Dave: This really is an extremely exciting and unique opportunity for Fairfax County to host the 2015 World Police & Fire Games. For those who don’t know about the games, I think they had their genesis in about 1967 or so with the California Police Games. That eventually evolved into the Western States Police Games, and then eventually the U.S. Police and Fire Games. Recognizing the value of bringing together athletes from around the country first, police and firefighters, deputies, correction officers, they wanted to expand to a world stage. In 1985, the first World Police & Fire Games were held. This is the 30th anniversary.

To give some scope, these games as far as number of athletes, are barely second to the Summer Olympics. We’ll have about 9,500 to 10,000 athletes from around the world. They’re all either active or retired police, firefighters, paramedics, deputy sheriffs, and correction officers

Rich: Chief Rohrer mentioned the camaraderie that is a huge component of this. But it’s also competitiveness. Us, men and women, in public safety are very competitive and that drive is what we do: saves lives, property, and the environment, so we’re up against those challenges everyday. The competitive nature of public safety is to compete and this is a great platform for the men and women of public safety being able to do that, not only from around this region, but equally as important from the national perspective and as Dave mentioned, our international guests that’ll be coming in.

How have partnerships been critical to the World Police & Fire Games and why is cross-sector collaboration important in public safety?

Dianne: Partnerships have definitely been extremely critical in pulling together the World Police & Fire Games. Just from the title, it’s a partnership between the police and fire departments, not just from Fairfax County but throughout the world that are coming and that are being represented here. Imagine 70 nations on the international world stage here in Fairfax County, that in it of itself is a testament to the partnerships and the work that has gone on behind the scenes to bring these games here. This has been a huge undertaking by just the partnerships within Fairfax County between our police department, sheriff’s office, fire and rescue, working together literally for years to make sure these games are going to be outstanding and that the athletes that are giving up their time personally and that are giving up their personal finances to come here to compete and to experience a camaraderie here in Fairfax County.

Rich: For those that may not know, Fairfax County is in a partnership and hosts a search and rescue team named, Virginia Task Force 1, we do that in partnership with FEMA on a federal response for domestic responses and USAID OPTA for our international responses. Our team of 60 people deployed to Nepal recently for the earthquake disaster there, made two live rescues as well as just did tremendous humanitarian work.

What are the three key lessons you have learned while creating the World Police & Fire Games?

Dave: Collaboration has really been the key to achieving where we’re at today and where we’re going to be with the games throughout collaboration across the board between agencies and our county partners, working with the community and elected officials, non-profits, the faith community, our volunteer organizations. Collaboration that we have stressed throughout this, also with our regional partners and our federal partners who’ve also been a great asset for us. Collaboration is key. I also say that putting key people in position is important. This is a unique assignment; we have some very talented men and women across public safety and across our county. This is a very unique assignment, which is not really consistent with their training and their everyday mission. Picking key people who have the skills-set to do that collaboration, to think outside the box so to speak is important also. Just to engage the community and our partners early and often to get our message out, to keep the excitement going is one of my key lessons.

Rich: I can add just one little thing, and it’s three key things that are the same thing: planning, planning, planning. That was the key for all of this as Chief Dave mentioned started for him, 6/7 years ago, and for Bruce and Jerome about 10 years ago. It all comes down to a key planning effort, not only by all the public safety agencies, the county, the community, the business community in Fairfax, but also, of the Commonwealth in its entirety, Washington DC, as well as Maryland. So the entire National Capital Region is all connected and planning is a key lesson learned from all of this. If you do it well in the beginning, you’ll have success in the end.

Dianne: I would say it’s the power of positivity. I am not a firefighter, I am not a former police officer or chief in any way, but I’ve had a chance to see up close and personal the camaraderie that exists in public safety and the opportunity for building new partners, new friendships, new training opportunities, there’s no limit to what can happen with the games, and I think it’s all been very positive to watch this mammoth undertaking happen and seeing everyone just handle it very calmly and plan accordingly. I’d say for me it was really a lesson of learning more about public safety and the camaraderie that exists there and the opportunity for new partners and new friendships as we move forward.

07/08/2015 03:05 pm ET