Friday Five – Five Leadership Characteristics

March 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking recently about leadership.  Good leadership vs. bad leadership, developing leadership, finding leadership, various different aspects of it. I serve in a leadership role at my volunteer agency and a supervisory role in my career, but also serve as a subordinate and a “follower” (for lack of a better term) in other aspects of my life. In recent months, I’ve begun considering what are the qualities of leadership that are both appreciated and not so appreciated, whether I’m the supervisor or the supervised. So, in honor of that, today’s friday five are five leadership characteritsics that I’ve encountered recently, and whether I appreciate the characteristic or not

Five Leadership Characteristics

1.  Willing to Get Your Hands Dirty – A leader who is willing to get their hands dirty is one I’m ahppy to serve under. This is the individual who not only delegates tasks, but recognizes taht they may need to step up and assist in teh completion of tasks. Instead of giving orders and then disappearing behind closed doors, this is someone who participates in the trainings, cleanings, and overall tasks at the station. Now, this characteristic can definitely become a negative thing when the leader is so busy doing the dirty work they forget to actually “lead the troops”.

2.  Ability to delegate responsibility – As a leader, I know that I do not have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to complete every task. I also recognize that the individuals who serve under me are qualified and capable of completing tasks assigned to them. With that knowledge, I’m happy to delegate the tasks to those people who truly should be doing the task. As an employee, I’m also much more appreciative when the person who should be doing the job is the one assigned the task. I’ve never been more frustrated than I am when my supervisor assigns a task to others, when it isn’t their task to complete.

3.  trustworthy – I need to be able to trust the person that is leading me. Maybe not in the personal realm, but definitely in the professional realm. On the street, I need to trust that the individual who is leading me isn’t going to lead me astray or in the wrong direction. I need to trust that the decisions my supervisor makes are going to be the safest, smartest, and best decisions to accomplish the goals. As a leader, I want me people to trust me and I want to trust them. Trust allows me to hand them a task and know that it will be complete. Their trust of me allows them to know that I’m not going to go around them to complete the task and that I’m not going to “sell them out” when something goes wrong.

4.  Able to share the spotlight – As a leader/supervisor, I am happy to share the spotlight. In fact, I’m happy to step into the shadows to ensure that the person who deserves spotlight gets it. It can pluck a nerve when I hear someone say “We did a great job” when they were not even a part of the group doing the job. As an employee, I do not do my job for the spotlight, but we can all admit that receiving recognition for our work is important. I’ve had bosses who have happily accepted the praise and accolades handed out for work that they had no participation in, beyond delegating the task to me. I believe that a good leader is happy to turn the spotlight on the people who truly deserve the recognition.

5.  Ready to Fight For His/Her People– I work for government and I volunteer in a government structure, so I know that you have to choose your battles. I’ve often said that the battles I fight for my volunteer agency aren’t necessarily the ones I would choose myself, but they are the choice of the membership. As someone who serves under leaders I want to know that my leader is not just in it for himself, but is willing to put aside his desires when the majority believes in something different. Nothing is worse than a leader who is only willing to fight “their” fights. It definitely breaks the trust, keeps the spotlight on them, and breaks down the group dynamic that we have in many situations.

 So, those are just five characteristics that I have come across that when applied appropriately can truly create a great leader. I can’t say that I succeed in demonstrating these characteristics, but I definitely strive to keep them in mind as I lead.  As with any of my lists, there are certainly many other characteristics that could be added to this list.  What do you look for in a leader or strive to be as a leader yourself?

Until next time…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn)


How Do You Mentally Prepare?

March 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is not a normal job.  Anyone who thinks that they can come into this line of work without preparing for what they will face and what they will deal with, is probably setting themselves up for failure. With the increased recognition of the mental impact of this job on firefighters, EMS providers, dispatchers, and police officers, we have really increased our attempts to prevent suicide and burnout. However, many of our attempts are reactionary. How many times have you been given a pamphlet or a number and been told to “call this if you have any problems”? We are ready to treat people AFTER they have issues, AFTER the incident, AFTER the ideal time to intervene.

One of the things I think that training academies, EMT classes, and departments need to begin integrating into their programs is resiliency training.

Resiliency, as it relates to psychology, refers to an individual’s ability to cope with stress and adversity ( In other words, it’s starting off mentally strong, so that when you are handed the call that is overwhelming you are already prepared for the impact it will have.  Resiliency teaches coping mechanisms so that as you experience the call, have the exposure, you are able to deal with it as it happens, instead of dealing with it ALL at one time.

Over the next few weeks I’m going provide information on mental health training for BEFORE the incident, DURING the incident, and AFTER the incident.

Until next time…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn).

EMS Nutrition #10 – Healthy Dessert Recipes

March 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

You know, it really is hard to admit when you fall of the wagon, but I think I’ve been run over by a wagon wheel. The past two weeks I feel like I’ve fallen off the fitness wagon. I’ve not stopped working out, but instead of five days a week it’s probably 3 and I’ve definitely gotten less strict in my eating/drinking habits. I think we all have those moments, unfortunately mine has lasted longer than I would have liked. So, in my attempt to jump back on the wagon/train/whatever, I’m back with the healthy recipes.

Healthy Dessert Recipes

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars –

I found this recipe the other day.  It’s amazing. You can add any filling, or even bake without a filling. You can also add dried fruit to increase the healthiness. Not only are they cheaper than buying the standard cereal bar at the store, they provide

Grilled Fruit –

As previously stated, fruit is a great natural sweet food that can be used as a substitute to your normal desserts. Grilling fruit adds a different texture/taste and can be a healthy variation of your standard foods!

Strawberry Shortcake

This is a healthier version of a strawberry shortcake. The link actually also provides nutritional information.

Apple Pie

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a healthy recipe, but it does have fruit, so that counts right?  I think though we have to have that one fall to recipe that allows us to splurge. So, this is my “splurge” (well, at least one of them).  This is one of those recipes I make and then take to the fire station for my husband to share with his shift.

So, those are a few recipes. There are many others. Don’t forget to look at post #9 for the alternatives to baking ingredients (including applesauce).

With all areas of eating covered, next week I’ll begin looking at taking care of ourselves mentally.

Until then…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn)!

Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC)

March 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today marks the one month countdown for the 2012 FDIC festivities. I (along with four other family members) will leave my hometown and travel to Indianapolis, Indiana for the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference.  I am honored not only to be able to attend as an instructor for the third year, but also to attend as a new author for Fire Engineering/PennWell Publishers. I have been to numerous conferences, but none like this. The training classes that are offered, the instructors that are brought in, and the vendors that line the exhibit floors are AMAZING, OVERWHELMING, and AWESOME!  Each year I arrive excited for the opportunities and leave overwhelmed with the information I gathered.

As I said, I will be teaching a class.  If you are attending, I would love to have you sit in and join me:

Course Title: Beyond the Water Cooler: EMS Role in Rehab
Course Date:
Thursday April 19
Course Time: 1:30-3:15

Two other great courses to attend (forget that they are taught by my husband and my father) are:

Course Title: Engine Company Operations
Instructor: Robby Owens
Course Date:
Wednesday April 18
Course Time: 10:30-12:15

Course Title: Emergency Responders vs. Electrical Hazards
Instructor: Frank Cheatham
Course Date: Friday April 20
Course Time: 8:30-10:15

Along with the great training/education opportunities, there are some awesome social networking opportunities, and just some amazing chances to meet other emergency services providers from around the country/world.  This year I will also be participating in the Courage and Valor Fun Run, a 3.1 mile (5K) run through White River State Park. There will also be a 9/11 memorial stair climb. I plan on watching that this year as well!

Even thought it is just 30 days away, there is still time to register and also to find a great hotel room.  Check out this link for some additional information.

Hope to see you there!

Until next time…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn)

Friday Five – Plans You Should Have

March 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Next Tuesday, many Virginia businesses, schools, and government offices will conduct Tornado Drills. The National Weather Service will send an alert to NOAA which will provide a coordinate effort for all Virginia’s residents to practice their procedures should an actual tornado hit. A few years ago this would have seemed a bit foolish to me, as Virginia isn’t really known to be hit by many tornadoes. Now though, I’d say that the practice of the Tornado drills is even more important, as it seems that there is no longer a “season” or a state that isn’t impacted by tornadoes.  With that in mind, today’s friday five is the Five plans you/your agency should have AND practice:

Five Plans You Should Have

1.  Tornado Response Plan – We plan for what we will do when the tornado hits buildings in our first response area, how we will treat patients, how we will safe lives, how we will conduct searches. but do we plan on how we will react when the building that is hit is our own facility?  What happens when the people who respond, can’t?  Also, how do we keep our members safe if they are in the building when a tornado warning is issued?  Do you have signs posted so they know where the tornado shelter area is within your building?

2. Mass Casualty Response Plan – Alright, this might seem like it should be common sense. We, at any point, could respond to a mass casualty. But, do you know what resources are available in surrounding jurisdictions or where the nearest cache of equipment is?  These are things that we need to ahve planned out, so that in the heat of the incident, we automatically have answers to the questions that will get asked.  These plans should also be drilled, both in tabletop and in real-life exercises so that improvements can be made.

3.  Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP)This plan provides a road map for ensuring that the agency can respond and continue to function even when the facility or the leadership is no longer there. It provides a framework for line of succession (who is in charge, when the boss can’t be) and also begins ensuring that the functions of the business can continue, even if limited, and be brought back to 100%.

4. Line of Duty Death Plan – This is a plan that I can hope NO agency has to enact, but that EVERY agency should have. This plan should cover how agencies will assist employees and their families when they are impacted by a line of duty death. It should include the role fo the agency, the role of other first response agencies, and how to provide an appropriate liaison with the family. These plans ensure that the agency is ready, though we hope it never has to happen.

5.  EMS Preplan – This isn’t one plan, but a compilation of plans. From the fire side, preplanning is second nature. Most fire departments require shifts to preplan various businesses and facilities, but EMS agencies overlook the need for access to an EMS preplan. Is your agency aware of the EMS needs at larger facilities? Are there large gatherings that could end up being a large mass casualty?  Using the preplans, EMS agencies can better prepare to the simple (and complex) response to a facility.

So, those are the five plans, that you and your agency should have.  Do you?  Are there other plans your agency has that you want to share?

Until next time…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn)

And the Winners Are…

March 10, 2012 § 1 Comment

That’s right, that title isn’t a typo, I’ve been able to get my hands on an extra book and am actually going to be able to giveaway TWO copies of Incident Command for EMS.

1.  The first winner is Clayton G. from Pleasant View Fire in Springfield Missouri.  He sent a picture of their accountability board, which as he said, allows for changes to the ICS structure on the fly, which is a great feature to have.  Here is his picture:

2.  The second winner is James M. from Black Creek Fire Department in Mechanicsville, Virginia. James shared a picture of Hanover’s unit accountability tag, which allows each agency member on a truck to be accounted for. THis can then be given to the Incident Commander for placement on the assignment board.

Congratulations to you both on winning and I hope that you find the book informative and useful (and not just to balance the kitchen table)!  I’ll be contacting you this weekend to confirm shipping address!

Until next time…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn)

Friday Five – Five Classes for EMS Providers

March 9, 2012 § 3 Comments

Okay, so I don’t normally provide too much background on my choice for Friday Fives, but I have to give a bit of a background to this list.  I had the pleasure of having a telephone conversation with what I call an EMS purist. You know them, those people who will only ever ride on an ambulance, only ever concern themselves with EMS stuff, and never understand the need for anything other than EMS. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that. However, the conversation with this guy made me feel like I’d fallen backwards 10 years in progression fo the system.

This gentleman did not understand why he, an EMS provider, needed to take NIMS training. Ten years after it was put into place, this individual still had not taken any of the NIMS trainings because and I quote “That’s a fire science class and I only run EMS calls”.  Without reaching through the phone and smacking this person, I calmly explained to him that while he may only run EMS calls, he will always work with other members of the emergency services field and that NIMS provides a framework for responding with multiple different agencies. He still didn’t seem to get it, even after I used his own localities recent interaction with state and federal resources as the result of damage from a hurricane.  He didn’t get it when I explained to him that the basics are important and that it actually wasn’t a huge deal because the training is available online, FOR FREE. After finally finishing my phone conversation I was struck by two things:

1.  Some people will just never get it.

2.  There are still EMS providers who believe that the only training they need is first aid based, just as there are probably still fire service members who believe the only training they need is how to put water on the fire.

With those two things in mind, today’s friday five is a list of five classes I believe every EMS provider should have (beyond first aid training), even if they are only riding on a fire truck.

Five Classes for EMS Providers

1.  National Incident Management System (NIMS) – Forget that this is a free course and forget that you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas to take it if you don’t want to. If this course cost and you had to travel, I’d still recommend it. The NIMS training, while not federally mandated, should be made a mandate by agencies for their members. It provides an understanding of the frame-work of response, from the basic to the large-scale incident. It takes out the actual operational efforts and describes the organization fo the efforts and the resources/agencies available. Anyone who might EVER respond to an event should have this training. Check out: for more information

2.  Incident Command Systems (ICS) – While NIMS talks about the ICS structure, the application and implementation of ICS is covered in other. Many of the courses offered are actually specific to the field, so you can take an Incident Command/Operations Course aimed at a target audience of EMS providers. This will provide scenarios that are EMS based and allow you to better understand the fact that you have a role in ICS, even if you only ride on the ambulance.  The National Fire Academy (NFA) offers a wide variety of these courses, and is an experience every emergency services member should have!  Visit for additional information on National Fire Academy courses

3.  Hazardous Materials Awareness – Every EMS provider should take a hazardous materials awareness course. We need to understand how to recognize a haz-mat situation, how to identify a hazardous material (from a distance) and how to look that same hazardous material up in the Emergency Response Guide (ERG) to assist in the treatment of our patients. This is a course that can be taken online and is often taught in person by the state Emergency Management agency or Fire Programs office.

4.  Vehicle Extrication – This is a hard one to explain. Some of you  readers are actually doing extrication off the ambulance. In some jurisdictions though, extrication is a fire department activity (probably in more localities than there are EMS doing extrication). Even if you never place your hands on a spreader, cutter, ram, etc, you need to understand the process of extrication. Extrication is a patient care driven issue (that’s another argument I could write about). We wouldn’t be doing extrication if there wasn’t a patient in the car. An EMS provider with an understanding of the process of vehicle extrication can be prepared for the impacts on the patient, understand the time issues associated with different techniques, and use their knowledge to provide information to the patient (if conscious) about what the extrication team is doing.

5. Critical Incident Stress Management – This training, whether through International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF), the Red Cross, or some other agency, provides not only the ability to help others deal with the impacts of the job, but also provides a foundation for recognizing when you are personally impacted as well. We focus so much on the reactive approach (treating things AFTER they happen). If we could provide this training, or even a simpler form, we may be able to PREVENT individuals from being impacted emotionally/mentally by a critical incident.

So, those are the trainings (beyond first aid) that I truly believe EVERY EMS provider should have. You may or may not agree with me, but I think we can all agree, that the training is out there and we should definitely take advantage of it. Why would you not want to be the best provider you can be?

Do you have any classes you would add to this list?  Feel free to share your thoughts here or on twitter!

Until next time, stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn)

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