Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stupid Acronyms

I'm sure that most of you can remember the first aid acronym, ABC. Meant to be a guide to help your average Joe confidently apply first aid principles, ABC reminded people to check the Airway, Breathing and then Circulation in a victim, in that order. It was clever, not only because it was easy to remember, but also because the ABC corresponded with the fundamentals of first aid.

Then one day, some bright spark discovered that perhaps checking the airway was not always the prudent first step to take. For instance, if the victim had been electrocuted and there were live wires around, the only thing checking the airway would do is to create a second victim. So the powers that be decided to add DR to the front of the acronym, standing for checking Danger and a Response in the victim. Accordingly, far fewer people coming to the rescue found themselves getting injured in their rescue efforts, but a clever acronym was spoiled forever.

Some acronyms were never clever. Living in a room that used to be part of a hotel, I still have the instructions for what to do in case of fire. The acronym? RACE. For what it's worth, the acronym stands for the following:

Remove people from danger area
Alert people nearby and raise an alarm
Confine fire and smoke
Extinguish and contain fire and evacuate

Reasonable advice, but could they have come up with a more stupid acronym if they tried? I mean, if there's a fire, you want to respond in a calm and composed manner to the threat. RACE simply doesn't conjure up the idea of calm and composure. I surprised that they didn't come up with PANIC:

Push others out of the way
Argue with the designated fire warden
Neglect to use common sense
Inhale smoke fumes
Collapse on floor

At least then the acronym would be consistent with the advice.

So, as the first official Ministry of Incompetence competition, I'd like to ask readers to tell me about some of the most stupid acronyms they've come across. An unimpressive prize goes to the winner.

1 comment:

Documentor said...

Hi David, love your work! I used to use the following acronym to describe the level of service us workers used to receive from the IT dept. Note that this company no longer exists as such.