What a great conference we had in Ashland! Thank you Kimberley Summers for hosting it for us and thank you to all those that assisted her and sponsored this event.
For those that were not able to attend, so sorry. As always, we had such great topics and speakers. Since our hosts are Admins just like us, they know exactly what we need and how to make the most of our training events.
1. Our conference started with a session on Preparedness. This is a topic close to my heart. I believe we should all be as self-sufficient as possible so our emergency responders can spend their time helping those with the greatest need.
Here are some key points from Chief John Karns’ presentation:
• When the disaster occurs, the time to prepare is past.
• Know the likely disasters for your area
• Sign up for Reverse 911 (citizen alerts from your dispatch center)
• Make a kit (72 hr. minimum to 14-day kit for home, and another kit for your car) See www.ready.gov for what to include in your kits, including meds and food for pets. Set a date to review your kit yearly.
• Make sure your staff/volunteers and their families are trained in preparedness. Our responders can work better if they know their families at home know what to do and have what they need.
• Have a communication plan (Text, don’t talk; have a contact that lives outside your area that all your family members can check in with)
• Secure high furniture, TV to its stand, water heater, etc.
• Know how to shut off water, natural gas, electrical panel
• Have a meeting place set up in advance
He concluded with this–Will the next disaster be an emergency or just an inconvenience? Be prepared!
2. Dave Gulledge from OSFM taught us the importance of proper, detailed incident reporting to the State Fire Marshal’s Office. The data that is collected is extremely valuable in determining product recall, fire safety themes to be taught in our schools and communities, and product safety legislation. The data also assists with budgeting and planning for equipment, facility and program needs for your department or district. Not only is the information submitted used in Oregon, but it is also aggregated into the nationwide database.
3. “Resilience in an Adrenaline Fueled Workplace” was presented by Anne Kellogg. Resilience is our ability to cope and bounce back from a stressful situation. We learned about stress related disorders and common stress responses. Most importantly we learned about the best ways to cope including: crying, exercising, laughing, belly breathing, praying or meditating, and creativity (i.e. writing, music). One fact that was interesting is that our bodies are activated and deactivated through our senses, with SMELL being the most powerful.
4. Next we learned to Stay Fit, Stay Strong and Stay Youthful from Carol Garner. Carol reminded us to keep moving (including exercises we can do at our desks), build muscle, eat right (40% vegetables, 25% proteins, 12 % healthy fats, 10% carbs, 8% fruits, 5% treats), and get a good night’s sleep. Carol was amazing, so encouraging and looking better at nearly 70 than most people look in their 30’s!! Wow!
That was just day 1! Now for day 2….
5. Once again we were honored to have Jack Snook present a session on Building and Maintaining the Bridge Between You and Your Boss. Jack shared methods and tools he and his Administrator developed over the years. He encouraged us to work on our CPR – Communications, Processes, and Relationships. We were asked to consider if we are a “Launching Pad” or an “Anchor” within our districts. Do we keep up to date with latest processes and technology that helps us be more efficient, safer, and smarter? Or are we an anchor holding our districts back by sticking to old ways that may not be the best ways?
Successful teams do the right things for the right reasons, they prepare, they communicate, they resolve differences quickly, they listen well, communicate, advise of issues, and oh, did I say communicate?
6. Managing Stress and Team Building…through laughter. Leigh Anne Jasheway explained why we laugh and why we need to laugh and how to laugh more. Why we laugh – to relieve stress, anxiety, fear nervousness; for social bonding – we laugh with those we like; heart based laughter – joy in that person or pet for example; we laugh at incongruity – the absurd or odd; and then there’s the superiority humor – sarcasm, laughing to bring ourselves up while putting others down?. What does laughing do for us? Makes us feel better (releases endorphins), helps suppress pain, lowers blood pressure, affects fertility (I won’t expound on that one), and uses our muscles.
Sometimes we get stressed because we worry what we look like or we said something dumb or we did something embarrassing. This is ego-stress and it is meaningless. If it doesn’t threaten your life or health, get over it – laugh it off!
Ideas about Team Play – supporting other people makes it easier to let go of ego. Good team playing - doesn’t say “yes, but” (because that negates what the other said) but rather “yes, and”.
7. Chaplain Jim Fields presented on Stress First Aid. What is Stress First Aid? It is the process for timely assessment and response to psychological injuries with the goal to preserve life, present further harm and promote recovery. What skills are essential in stress first aid - recognizing when a peer has a stress injury, acting on it (if you see something, say something, do something), offer them resources for help. There are a lot of resources out there, for example your district leaders, Chaplains, EAP program, peers or counselors.
What are some of the signs of stress injuries? You may notice a significant change in behavior or appearance; the person may not be able to control their emotions or thinking; they may not be doing their job as usual; they may have panic attacks, anger/rage; there may be loss of memory; they may not enjoy activities they once did; these are a few signals you may pick up on.
It’s important to build relationships with your co-workers so you can better help each other in times of stress.
Chaplain Fields second session was on How Chaplains and Admins can Work Together. He shared the purpose of agency chaplains and how beneficial their support is to our organizations and communities. Ways we can work better with our Chaplains is to notify them of special events, include them in our social activities, include them in our district publications, and especially keep the lines of communication open.
End of day two and on to day three…
8. Building Better Teams – Strength in Diversity was the topic covered by Jodi Rasor. She shared the TedTalk by Margaret Heffernan on super chickens. You can watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udiTaS2wTAM. It is often thought that building up the superstars (the most productive folks, while suppressing the regular guy) equals success. This video will help you see the value of diverse teams of different ages, genders, job types, working styles, thinking styles and skills; how bringing out the best in others is how we find the best in ourselves.
We need to build our 'Social Capital' by networking and building relationships which creates bonds of loyalty and trust and motivates each other. Different perspectives create a better team!
9. We were treated to the autobiography of Margueritte Hickman in a session called “Heels to Boots”. Margueritte shared with us the many, many jobs, skills, and directions she has gone in her life (from fashion design, retail sales, Exec Director of a non-profit organization, marketing, wildland firefighter, wildland dispatcher, volunteer firefighter, PIO, fire inspector and fire investigator). Not to mention her hobbies (camper, hiker, traveler, pilot, photography, scrapbooking and card making to name a few). Her story was about identifying our real priorities (which sometimes means slowing down and taking care of ourselves), recognizing that our history makes us who we are, and that practicing gratitude brings happiness.
10. To round out our conference and finish up, we heard from Stacy Maxwell and Kelly Williams on Redeveloping Your Performance Management. They shared with us the processes in developing effective performance appraisals. They emphasized the importance of being active listeners and to get training on how to give good, productive feedback. They provided a feedback planning tool to help with this.
They also provided a Performance Capture Tool to help you capture (in writing) what you do on a regular basis, while it is fresh in your mind (self-evaluation) vs. once a year. They referred us to the Lominger Model of Competencies to give us an idea of what types of skills we could be evaluating ourselves on.
There are 67 Lominger competencies; here are a few: action oriented, approachability, building effective teams, command skills, compassion, composure, conflict management, creativity, customer focus, decision quality, delegation, directing others, ethics and values, functional or technical skills, innovation, integrity and trust, listening, managing and measuring work, managing diversity, motivating others, negotiating, organizing, patience, peer relationships, perseverance, planning, presentation skills, priority settings, problem solving, self-development, time management, understanding others, work/life balance, and written communication.
We all need continual feedback so learning your own and each other’s communication styles is important. Whatever you measure gets done. Whatever you measure and receive feedback on, gets done well!
Whew! We covered a lot and learned a lot.
This was just a brief summary but you can see the value of attending OFSOA workshops and conferences for the wonderful training and networking!