I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks, primarily because I’ve gone through several shift changes (and I’ve another one starting this weekend). Made it tough to do things in the normal fashion. This weekend’s difficulties are exacerbated by the wildfire smoke from California and Oregon blanketing Washington State.
Of course, the smoke not only makes life miserable, it makes things dangerous for several groups of people—asthmatics, people with lung and heart conditions, the elderly or very young, and pregnant women. Nearly all of my medical calls on my last shift were for people with shortness of breath. SOB is a pretty broad category, but it can indicate a number of deadly issues, so most calls end up getting upgraded to a medic.
Medics are a finite resource but we can’t tell over the phone when someone’s just annoyed by the smoke and are coughing a bit more or when someone’s life may be in jeopardy, so if the symptoms meet the criteria—we dispatch the medics.
I’m holding out hope that the smoke will start to clear out towards the weekend. If the weather geniuses are even kind of right and we get some rain (finally), it’ll make a huge difference.
As for me, I’m just finishing up my time with my third trainer in call receiving. Starting Saturday, I’ll go back to my first trainer and I’m excited about that. I felt frustrated with myself working with my second trainer because if he spoke up, it’s because I was screwing up. He was otherwise content to let me take the calls, scratch my way through. My trainer this past week, however, wasn’t waiting for anything. Constant interruptions and prompts, usually just as I was about to say the very thing she was. Plus, on more than a few occasions, she wouldn’t be muted and the caller would hear her and not know how to respond to a second voice.
That isn’t to say she hasn’t taught me a lot. She has and she’s helped me refine my workflow. She’s like me in that she’s had a rather colorful life, so we totally get along, but I’m trying to stretch my wings and it feels like she’s buffeting me with hers.
She said two things that really stood out to me, however. The first was that I was working too hard, that my narratives are longer and more complex than they need to be. “Write it for a five year-old,” she ordered. That’s definitely going to speed things up for me because as fast as I type (about 80 WPM, corrected), sometimes there’s dead air while I type up my notes.
The second thing was that she explained she wasn’t prompting me because I didn’t know the stuff. I do—I’ve shown I could handle just about any call, but I’m taking too long. Too long on the police side starting my call type and priority. Too long on the fire/medical side writing up long narratives that no one is probably going to read. Just enough for the short report will suffice.
As a writer, that’s a tough habit to break, but I’m working on it.
She said she sees me roughly halfway through my call-receiving training. No guarantees about that, but if she had to peg me, that’s where it’d be. Now she wants me to refine my game. Be faster with the writing, be quicker with the assignments, be more assertive and control the calls, and be decisive and know when to get off the line.
Said that way, I felt a tiny bit of relief. I learned a long time ago that speed came with time and repetition. My trainers didn’t try to force speed out of my initially because they wanted me to get things right first. Accuracy was more important than speed for a new call receiver, but now that my accuracy is adequate, it’s time to get faster. She wasn’t prompting me because I don’t know my stuff, but because it’s time for me to start performing like a pro.
She also said she knew I could do it. Burglar alarms, fire alarms, and most medical calls, I’m in and out in under two minutes. Fire calls, too. I just need to keep working at those things and I’ll eventually get released.
So, starting at 0300 tomorrow morning, that’s what I’ll work on.