By Austin M. Frishman, Ph.D.
Norman Cooper, an icon in our industry who recently passed away, coined the phrase "guardians of our environment" for Pest Management Professionals (PMPs). In fact, the statement was true hundreds of years ago, and continues to increase in importance as time progresses.
More than 150 years ago, it was well-known that rodents and outbreaks of diseases associated with these pests often accompanied periods of war. Hence, the very first PMP recognized in our country was Solomon Rose, who provided rodent control while following Union Army General William Sherman during the Civil War.
Today, we know that without the services of PMPs, we would quickly be inundated with mice, rats, cockroaches and other pests. Let me share with you from personal experience just how important your services are to our communities:
Early in my career as a novice technician, I encountered an apartment severely infested with German cockroaches. Two young children in the apartment had no eyebrows. Afraid to perform a treatment, I asked the mother if the children were sick and if I could perform a treatment. She calmly answered, "It’s okay — the cockroaches ate their eyebrows." I couldn’t believe it. After the treatment, there was a foot-high pile of dead cockroaches that filled the doorway. It was at this point I realized just how important it was that I treat every account like it mattered.
A New York City hospital had a German cockroach problem inside incubators that housed premature babies. I was able to use a cockroach bait that could be placed into the incubators with no adverse effects to the infants. Within about 10 days, the problem was solved, and the premature babies had one less adversity to deal with in their struggle for life. You can bet I felt very proud of my work, and I still do.
When a serious public health situation like Zika emerges, who are you going to call? Not ghostbusters, but PMPs. Today, PMPs are called upon to work with organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help control disease-transmitting mosquitoes, ticks and more.
Even insects that are perceived as beneficial can become a health issue. Mud dauber wasps can construct their mud nests over gas vents and cause a serious house explosion. I was called to deal with this on three separate occasions.
Public health inspectors and other government personnel inspect food, hospitals and other types of facilities. They report on what they find, but it is PMPs who must come in and do the work. Think of PMPs as the "doers" — the people of action on the front line wiping out pest populations. The more effective PMPs are, the less they are appreciated because the public forgets how bad it could have been. In this way, PMPs are like silent heroes.
Our importance is not diminishing. On the contrary, it is greater than ever. Show your loved ones this article and tell them to give you a hug in appreciation for what you do day-in and day-out. And sleep well, because tomorrow you have an important job to do.
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