September 20, 2022
Surviving the Headset
When you find out you will be doing a protocol update or protocol maintenance for your continuing education, you might focus on how many changes there are and how long it will take to cover them. I’m busy, I don’t have time … you need to make time.
First, you might be concerned about sitting through a presentation outlining numerous details and trying to remember them. Take notes and create personal reference materials. We all have a lot to keep straight.
Second, there’s only so much excitement an instructor can pour into going over changes, no matter their enthusiasm about the topic. Presenting information for all the different types of learners can be difficult and limited by the medium.
But we can prepare ourselves for an informative and worthwhile session that will help us do our jobs better. Choose to come into the training without preconceptions; your approach influences your results. Your mindset affects your ability to learn.
An open mind—a growth mindset—one willing to give it a chance, will be far more productive. Making negative comments, not paying attention, or showing indifference insults the work of those involved in the presentation from the person suggesting the change(s) through the process of consideration, approval, and implementation.
Just know maintenance updates are necessary. The protocols have evolved partially because of feedback from users like us. Like everything else in this job, the protocols change—and that’s a good thing. There’s a responsibility to teach you the changes so you’re not taken off guard when encountering something new. Some changes are big improvements and will help you do your job better. Sometimes they make a questioning sequence sound more natural instead of us feeling like we’re flailing about with questions that don’t really apply or affect our flow.
The Academy updates are usually announced before the installation (ProQA®) or implementation of the updates takes place. Telecommunicators will find that they can be their own best advocate by looking over what is changing—whether in a formal training session or independent review. Sometimes you might miss an update before implementation, and a question pops up and throws you out of your rhythm. You sound rough to yourself and to the caller. You hope the caller doesn’t notice. You aren’t at the top of your game.
Not reviewing your maintenance updates can result in you missing a policy change or completing the protocol incorrectly. You could inadvertently do harm to a caller or a patient. You could put your job at risk, and your actions (or inactions) could put your agency at risk for litigation. Commit yourself to learning the changes to keep from making mistakes.
What if there’s something you would like to see changed about a current protocol? There’s an avenue open for you to request changes. On the Academy’s website (https://www.emergencydispatch.org/what-we-do/proposal-for-change), fill out a Proposal for Change. This is how you can make suggestions, request changes, or ask for clarification. It’s not hard. Feedback is crucial.
The request will be reviewed and often, changes happen. Look at how many versions of the protocols there have been and where we are today versus when you started. The protocol changes often serve to make all our jobs better.
The protocols help to standardize our service and therefore our care. No one gets something different unless you veer from that standard. It’s worth it to keep up with your maintenance updates. Make sure to have an open mind; after all, someone put in the effort to make the updates and get the information to you. An open mind is open for business. Our jobs are mostly 24/7, and we never close. Why should you close your mind?