"Être fort pour être utile" we have all herd it and we have all herd about the connections between Georges Hébert and Parkour. More specifically Hébert's "méthode naturelle" and "parcours d'entrainement."
Everyone always claims that doing Parkour makes them more useful. In actuality how many of us have taken the time to judge how useful we really are? What skills besides Parkour do you have? If you lived in New Orleans, Joplin MO or in one of the states flooded by hurricane Irene would you really be that useful? In an emergency situation could you administer basic first aid, could you help someone with a broken foot get out of harms way, could you carry an unconscious person to safety?
Even in everyday life if you were walking down the street could you stop a mugging or a sexual assault? Could you provide accurate descriptions of people to the police, change a tire or administer the Heimlech maneuver. Just because you can get someplace doesn't make you useful. In many cases it makes you another liability to emergency services. A liability that is not worth the risk to anyone unless you are doing some good.
I say all this not to dissuade you from training in Parkour to be useful. In fact I am trying to do just the opposite. We as traceurs and traceuses have the ability to do a lot of good. In an emergency situation we could safely reach areas that many people are not trained to do without help or specialized equipment. (Only in extreme emergencies should this be attempted!) Because of this we should be prepared for such an event. So go sign up for more training. Take a search and rescue class, take basic first aid, sign up for your local CERT. Even learning basic survival skills can be the difference between being an asset and a liability.
How useful are you? Do you know any first aid, are you trained in self defense, do you know how to safely judge if you can move a person, can you provide basic necessities (i.e food, water, shelter and first aid) for yourself or others. Are you a certified lifeguard, do you have a plan for what you are going to do if disaster strikes? Does your family know your plan? To those of you with kids this is especially important.
I'm not saying that you have to be able to do all of these things. In the end you decide what is useful to you. So tell us. How useful are you? They don't have to be listed here it can be as simple as knowing how to change a tire all the way to how to treat a sucking chest wound. Tell us what you can do that would be useful in an emergency and tell us what you could do to make yourself more useful.
Here are some good links:
Red Cross training locator: http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.d8aaecf214c576bf971e4cfe43181aa0/?vgnextoid=46de1a53f1c37110VgnVCM1000003481a10aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default
CERT locations and information: http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/
FEMA information: http://www.fema.gov/plan/index.shtm
Here is my skill list: Basic first aid with some advanced skills, ability to carry a person safely and decide if it's necessary to do so, basic woodland survival (i.e. hunting, making fire, building shelter, direction finding), Martial Arts training, proficient with many types of firearms (Rifle, pistol, shotgun), construction knowledge including electrical systems, welding, and basic mechanic skills.
Some of the things i'm doing to make myself more useful are: taking a wilderness survival course through the army ROTC at my college as a refresher, training to become a lifeguard, searching for more first aid classes, trying to get stronger in everything I already do preparing to sign up for CERT.
Also feel free to discuss how useful Parkour really is or isn't or does or doesn't make you more useful.