Q&A WITH ERIC FAYAD
April 4, 2022
When you were announced as the Instructor of the Year at NAVIGATOR 2021, did you have any inkling that you would become the next Associate Director of Instructor Services for the Academy?
I didn’t have the slightest idea I would be in this position in the next few months. For one, I did not expect this position to open for a few more years, so I honestly had not even given it a thought, nor was I looking for a new job! I probably would not have even noticed the position had been posted except that a friend brought it to my attention.
Tell us what the Associate Director of Instructor Services does.
That is a complex question. One thing I didn’t realize is that this position seems to have their hands in everything, even if just a little. And even if my hand isn’t in it, I need to know about it. It is a tremendous position, and it involves learning to juggle many balls at the same time. But also knowing which balls to juggle and which ones to set aside at any given time.
In a nutshell, the Associate Director of Instructor Services handles anything instructor-related. That could include recruiting and retaining great instructors, coordinating the application process and the training program, ensuring instructors stay current and updated with curriculum and the latest advancements in instructional/adult learning theory and methods, and being available to instructors when they have needs. The biggest challenge is this doesn’t include just North America instructors, this includes all instructors in the world. This position also assists the other divisions within the IAED and even collaborates very closely with most of the divisions at PDC. I have learned we are all really one big team working together to make sure we have the best tools and people in positions to help people in their time of need.
Why did you decide to get into the public safety field?
My parents tell me I’ve always wanted to work on a fire truck since I was about three. Now, that is normal for a child, I just never grew out of it. (LOL.) Rescue 911 in my elementary and middle school years really had an impact; in high school, I joined an Explorer program where we trained and did shadowing as often as we wanted with the local EMS crews. It was an amazing experience, and I would recommend it to any high schooler or even parent wanting to get their child involved in service work. I just continued to grow in the field of emergency services and bounced around quite a bit within the organizations I was involved with. It has provided some amazing opportunities, and it’s hard to believe I wound up here; I would have never imagined that. As a matter of fact, my start in dispatch was only a matter of happenstance; I never even had an interest. Once I got into the communication center, I loved it and while I didn’t stay there full time, I worked there part time for most of my career.
Tell us about your experience in the communication center and as a first responder.
In 2001, the 24-hour EMS station I worked at was being relocated and then ultimately closed. In my EMS system, if you didn’t have an EMS station you “posted” and never saw a station, just sat in the ambulance the entire shift. I did not love that idea so I decided to move into dispatch temporarily until there was an opening in another 24-hour EMS station (they were a hot commodity). I was 19 years old. I wound up enjoying it, and I preferred to work the busiest dispatch consoles I could. Everything happening at once was great for my ADD; what a perfect situation! I was promoted to Communications Supervisor in 2004 until I accepted a position as a Firefighter/Paramedic with a local municipal fire department. The communication center allowed me to remain a part-time employee until 2018. In Communications, I moved into training and QA roles, and when I left, I was their Lead Communications Training Officer. I was offered and accepted a role as an In-House EMD Instructor, which is what married me to the (diarrhea, vomiting, sweating) have passed BECAUSE I have spent so much time immersing myself in it.
What words of wisdom do you share with new Academy instructors?
I really want new Academy instructors to recognize that often, they are the first person or first few people a new emergency dispatcher encounters in their training process. I really want them to drive home the impact we make on people, every single minute of every day. Students need to know that in this day, every emergency is not an emergency—in so much every day. However, having been an instructor, one big thing I want to focus on is being more visible and in contact with our instructors and doing everything we can to make sure our instructors feel like they are getting good communication from us; I am open to all options!
Another is to make sure that we always have an adequate pool of candidates to pull from when we need instructors; while we don’t always have a need for certain disciplines, we need to always be ready to supplement what I call the “pipeline” of qualified candidates. There are a lot of opportunities to streamline many of our processes (in the background) so they are more efficient. And some processes need an update or revamp. All of this will take time. I need to learn to crawl, then walk, then jog, then run.
If someone is interested in becoming an Academy instructor, what do they need to do
This is a two-fold answer. If a person is interested in becoming an instructor, I would encourage them to look at our website and see if they meet the minimum criteria for the discipline. Keep in mind, our instructors are not only protocol experts, but IAED. I became a Regional EMD instructor in 2013 and added EFD in they are also experts in their field of discipline (Police, Fire, Medical, 2015. In 2019, I left the fire department as a Fire Lieutenant and moved into “full-time” independent contractor work with PDC, which brings us up to now.
You became a Regional EMD/EFD Instructor for the IAED. Why did you want to become an instructor?
The honest answer is because they asked, and I had a hard time saying no to anyone. But in all reality, I had started immersing myself in instructing and training because I was afraid to speak in front of people. I was always a very shy person, and even now I have that tendency. I must talk myself into being more of an extrovert every single day. I still get nervous right before I get in front of a class, and I still get nervous when I have to talk to a group. However, the days of having severe symptoms fact most aren’t—but not to lose sight of the fact that we can make a difference every single time we pick up that phone. And yes, we will save lives also. But it doesn’t happen as often as some may think (particularly if you watch any of the latest emergency TV shows), so look for opportunities to impact someone. Keep an open mind: Sometimes it could even be a co-worker you help, listen, or relate to that you make the most difference for in a day. The beauty of this job is it is always different; who we help from day to day can change, but the opportunity is always there if you look for it … and take it.
What are your goals and aspirations as Associate Director of Instructor Services?
I don’t think I could adequately answer this completely because I am still learning ECN). If you meet the qualifications, APPLY! There are multiple aspects to the application process, and it can take considerable time, but it all starts with YOU applying.
The other side to this is for our Accredited Centers of Excellence (ACE)! I cannot stress this enough; YOU are our “pipeline” of applicants. Most discipline instructors must come from or be affiliated with an ACE. If you do not have an in-house instructor, get one! We need you to keep your eyes peeled for potential instructors and support them in their quest. So, I would also encourage our leaders in our ACEs to be familiar with the minimum criteria, and if you don’t have an in-house instructor but have a good candidate, encourage them to apply and support them!