Practical Support for the Changing World at Work 
Linda F. Willing
P.O. Box 148
Grand Lake, CO
80447
970-531-2388
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Consider This... February 2018 Issue Number 211

Is a monthly electronic newsletter which links current events and issues to the daily challenges faced by fire and emergency services managers. Current topics in the areas of leadership development, workplace diversity, change management, and conflict resolution will be discussed.

We hope that you find the information here useful and provocative.
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Upcoming Events  

The Virginia Fire Rescue Conference will be held February 21-25, 2018 in Virginia Beach.

The Conference of International Women in Fire and Emergency Services will be held in Fairfax County, VA May 24-26, 2018.

Now available! On the Line: Women Firefighters Tell Their Stories by Linda F. Willing. This book features interviews with over 35 women firefighters from the United States and Canada. The book is available from major online booksellers, and signed copies may be ordered through this website.

 

In the News

Face Time

I recently sat in on a committee meeting among a national group that is working to develop training to address the problem of bullying in the fire service. One of the ideas discussed was to create a video that would serve as a training solution and could be distributed nationally. Some in the group favored this approach; others were not so sure.

In most organizations, including emergency services agencies, training is increasingly something that a person does through video resources or online platforms. Sometimes these training formats encourage group participation, but often they are utilized alone. While this model can work well for many topics, and also can be more efficient and convenient, it is not a recipe for success for subjects that are nuanced and require discussion.

Bullying is one of those topics. Bullying is not a technical subject like hydraulics or fire codes. Just defining bullying would be a challenge for most groups. Do practical jokes constitute bullying? What about hazing? Are there degrees of bullying, or is it an all-or-nothing proposition? And how should individuals respond if they or someone else are being bullied? What additional responsibilities do officers have in this area?

All of these questions are best answered in a group environment where discussion is encouraged and real case studies are considered. Skilled facilitation is a must. Exercises need to be designed so no one can hide out, but also managed so no individual feels singled out or targeted.

This is the main reason why face-to-face training works best for subjects like bullying. But there is another reason. Getting people together in one room is logistically difficult. Time and resources are required to do it. When a fire department makes that commitment, there is a clear subtext that says: This training is important. Pay attention.

In an era where "FaceTime" is a phone app for virtual contact, and young people are growing up with constant access to one another through texts and apps, but very little in person, showing up and having the conversation on difficult topics is more important than ever.

 

News Brief

Battalion Chief Kathleen Stanley, the highest ranking women on the Fairfax County, VA Fire Department Women's Committee, has resigned her position on that committee. In her detailed resignation letter, Chief Stanley stated that "This position is for show, with no legitimate authority, respect, or value" and that "Fairfax County Fire and Rescue tolerates, and often defends, sexual harassment, retaliation and a hostile work environment: 'zero tolerance' is a hollow term thrown about with false commitment."

Source: Firelawblog.com, January 31, 2018

 

Sexual Harassment Update

Workers Comp for PTSD

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Florida is working to pass a bill that would include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a diagnosis that would allow for workers comp coverage. Currently in Florida, first responders receive workers compensation benefits and lost wages under a post-traumatic-stress diagnosis only if it is accompanied by a physical injury.

The bill has been pushed forward by first responder families affected by PTSD, especially in the wake of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shootings in Orlando. The bill would would expand mental health services to first responders and provide workers compensation benefits to police, firefighters, and paramedics who "witness a murder, suicide, fatal injury or child death or... mass casualties."

First responders consistently report rates of PTSD about twice that of the general public. Research has also found that police officers and firefighters report suicidal thoughts at a rate nearly ten times that of the general public.

Without access to workers compensation, those suffering from work-related PTSD in Florida must currently shoulder all mental health treatment costs themselves, which can result in tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the treatment.

A similar bill was stalled last year amid budget negotiations. This year the bill is moving forward, having already cleared two bipartisan Senate committees unanimously.

Source: The Tallahassee Democrat, January 16, 2018

 

 

© Linda F. Willing, 2018