What kinds of things does your agency do to connect with the public?

See what Gordon Graham had to say about this topic at EMS Today.

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Nothing, not that am proud of that, but its true.


We attend community events, like fundraisers or high school games. Not necessarily as standby, but just to expose ourselves to the community and we do things like hand out stickers, or let the kids explore the ambulance. We would love to hear other ideas though, so I'm interested to see what other people do. 

We should be doing things every day to connect with the public - and most of us and our agencies do, without really thinking about it.  Sometimes it's in a good way, sometimes not.

Mr. Graham's presentation was great - but it was not as much about building public trust as it was about "not loosing" public trust.  He talked about how one "bad news" event can destroy public trust for a whole agency.  Some of his big points were:

  1. Continuous improvement - agencies should always be looking at their performance and striving to do better.  One suggestion was "How your agency handles bilingual calls."  If someone doesn't receive a proper response and care because of a language barrier, the AGENCY will look bad.  We should have training, procedures, resources.

  2. Quality people - recruit, train, and keep a high-quality workforce.  He suggested complete background investigations every five years.  He gave an example of a police laboratory analyst who falsified her resume; when "found out" hundreds of probably-guilty people got out of jail.  Discussed several high-profile sexual misconduct EMS cases.
  3. Solid supervision - almost every high profile "tragic" events involve inadequate supervision, poorly performing supervisors, supervisors who want to be "friends" rather than bosses.

  4. Respect risk - treat all citizens well, even those who don't treat you well.  Focus on the important risks - seat belt use, not gunfire.  Stretching and back injury prevention, not some exotic disease that you might get.

  5. Training that is realistic, constant and rigorous.  Every day is a training day - tasks that involve risk.  Know how to do the job with excellence.  Why doesn't every agency have a daily training bulletin on the MDT?  If you only do driver training on sunny days, that is not realistic or rigorous.  Good training is not easy and should not be an afterthought.

  6. Audit function - verify that we are in fact doing what we say that we are doing.  Do PCRs reflect the care that was actually given?  Are we billing correctly?  Have we audited our controlled drugs from top to bottom?

  7. Continuous learning.  Analysis of events with bad outcomes, and "close calls."  Measure customer service - it is good customer service that keeps you from being sued and from appearing in the newspaper in a bad way. Measure what you do - create the "wow" factor.

All of these things help create a "high reliability organization" that is immunized against trust-destroying events.

This was a great session!

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