Posted in Training

Graduation Day

My academy days are officially behind me! Tomorrow night, I start call receiver training, which means taking 911 calls for 10 hours a day and going over each one with my trainer. This means I’m moving on to Phase II of my training process.

It’s been one hell of a foundation, too. We took calls for 6 hours this week, with our CTO right next to us. Sometimes they let us roll with it or if we got off track or had deer-in-the-headlights looks, they’d start guiding us. The nice thing was the liability was all on them, so we knew we couldn’t screw anything up too bad. The same will be true in Phase II, but once that’s over, each call will be on us and each day will require us to step up more and more with our process, precision, and speed.

At some point during Phase II, we’ll get signed off to take non-emergency calls on our own, but nobody likes those. Technically, they can be for anything but they’re usually for police and they’re often long. We want to process them as quickly as we can, though because while they can wait on hold, after 15 minutes they get dropped back in the queue and start ringing again. Non-emergency calls are often quite difficult, too. Requires more work, more digging, and more documentation.

Part of the job.

I also noticed that the call receivers who finished ahead of us (they started in January and have recently just been released to take calls on their own) are talking to us now. When we were just in academy, there wasn’t a lot of social interaction, but as soon as we took our first calls, they were there to talk.

How was your first call? I saw you got a medic call, what was that about? Nice job on that disturbance call!

I’ve been waiting for this because I knew as academy rookies, there wasn’t any place for us out there, not really. Now, though, we’ve braved the screams of the mental/emotional callers, helped the panicked through their emergencies, and gotten aid or police started with calmness and aplomb. Now we’ve earned the right to chit-chat.

HOWEVER, the dispatchers, who are fully trained on calls and both radios, still act a tiny bit aloof. The people training on radios are more receptive, but we’ve got to earn our stripes. It’s cool. My job is not to go make tons of friends. My job is to learn the WATERFALL of data we need to cram into our head through all four phases of training. As long as I manage that without being a diva or a show-off, I should be okay.

Academy is over (yay!) but our CTO’s parting words were, “You’ll learn more next week than you’ve learned in the past ten weeks.”

I believe it.

Posted in Training

Six Weeks In

I haven’t really made any updates because training hasn’t changed all that much. I’m still in fire academy, learning geographical boundaries, commands, medic assignments, and things like that, but my trainer has been prepping me for call receiver training in the somewhat fuzzy future. We’ve been doing lots of mock calls, helping me lock down my call types and priorities, get me into the habit of using abbreviations and the police phonetic alphabet, and remember the things that must be done each and every time!

So far, I’m batting .285, but this week has been a big improvement and while I felt frustrated last week, I saw steady progress as we worked.

On the downside, the new trainer meant a new shift, 0100-1100, which is not awesome. On the other hand, my new trainer really knows her stuff and is awesome.

I’m taking the good with the bad.

I don’t know how long I’ll be in fire academy. I still need to take at least the criteria-based dispatch course before I can go on to call receiver training and from the rumbles I heard this week, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was at least four weeks away. I’m not really complaining, though, because the time spent honing these fundamentals will pay off big time in the future. Particularly mastering addressing. That’s easily our number one data point. We can fudge a lot of other things, but we can’t do anything if we don’t know where you are. I spent many hours this week trying to locate addresses in our different CAD systems, learning to minimize my query to maximize success, and just how we get to someone somewhere on a freeway. It’s not easy and it’ll be my biggest challenge in call receiver training.

I’m still eager to get into it, though.

I’m also listening to live calls and practicing my note-taking skills, which has exposed me to a whole new level of life. The mental/emotional cases who rage at anything or sound completely calm and lucid as they talk about the aliens doing things to their property. I heard a man in pain after getting shot a whole bunch of times (I think he lived, though). I learned that a call for a chaplain was never a good sign and neither is calling off the CPR timer if we’re not immediately transporting a patient. I listened to a young man who’d eaten a THC edible terrified and uncertain if he was alive or not, vacillating between outrageous statements to simple questions.

They all called. Most of them lived. Our job is to help them all to the best of our ability. Looking at my colleagues, professionals all, I know I’m in the right place. Nobody slacks off.