When I event manage, I like things to go to plan. I have spent ages developing a fairly standard way to run an event that works really nicely for me, and tries to anticipate everything that could happen. And nine times out of ten it works, and everything is nicely relaxed, and it’s all good. And then you get those things you just can’t plan for.
I’m running a student event, the basic night out with loud music and plenty of alcohol. I’ve planned for alcohol intoxication and poisoning, fights, stiletto injuries, even drug overdoses (thankfully rare at this University). I have eight first aiders, so plenty of staff, and so far all we’ve had is the usual run of drunk students who started the night a little too fast. I’ve got two people in the hall, being highly visible in high-viz, two caring for our patients, and four more ready and waiting for the next job.
I get a call from the team in the hall. They’ve been called to a patient in the toilets. I acknowledge, and send a team to cover their spot. Another call comes in from campus security. They’ve had reports of someone whose hurt themselves in the car park. It’s not technically our area, but I want security on side, so dispatch the other team I have with me. I go to peak around the corner at our patients, but draw up short when I hear the distinctive sound of vomiting. They’ll be tied up for a while yet.
The team at the toilets checks in, saying they’ve got to the patient and will advise when they know more. All normal. I try to raise the other team, but they’re not talking to me. Probably out of range, no great stress. They have my mobile number.
The first aid room is still, filled only with the quiet reassurance being poured out by the team with their patients. I like it when it’s like this. A gentle busyness that says we’re doing our job properly.
A static filled message fills my ear. “Control, Control, 412, over.”
“Go ahead, 412”
“Control, we’re on scene at a *fuzz*TC. We’re *fuzz crackle* a hand, and the *hiss*lice.”
I take a mental double take, looking at my radio in confusion. “Sorry 412, say again. Did you say you were at an RTC?”
“*hiss crackle* yes, Control.”
“Do you need an ambulance?”
“No *hiss crackle*nor injuries only, all *crackle*afe. Need a couple more ha*hiss*s.”
“All received, 921. Contact the police directly, I’ll warn security, and will send someone your way as soon as I can.”
“*hiss crackle*oger, control.”
I’m still a little confused, but make arrangements for the police to get on campus, and dispatch my team in the hall as backup. In the back of my mind, I make plans about how I’ll deal with another patient, if they turn up. In my head I have a wonderful idea of how I’ll pull a team back from the RTC, perhaps send one of my people treating in the room next door to replace them. Hopefully the toilet call will just be another drunk who can be added to the group to be monitored.
“Priority, priority, control 922.” My wonderful plans flee my mind. Bollocks.
“Go ahead 922, you have priority.”
“One patient, male toilets, conscious breathing, chest…” The radio cuts off, and I have images of a first aider diving to catch a patient that’s just collapsed. I’m around the corner to the treatment area in a flash, and grab one of the first aider’s attention.
“922, 922 say again. Confirm you said chest pains in the male toilets, over.” My colleague looks at me and I nod and point. He’s off in a blur, stopping only to grab the O2 and AED bags. I dive into my pocket for my phone. “922, 922 from Control, over… 922, 922 from Control. Over.” Silence. “Nothing heard, 922. Backup en-route Control out.” I curse under my breath. This was not the time to lose contact with a team. I want to phone 921, get them to send a team back to me, but don’t want to risk missing a call from 922. I curse again. Of all the things I had considered, the combo of an RTC and a chest pains was not one of them, particularly as I’m now completely out of staff. Things have now officially gone to pot, and there’s nothing I can do except take a deep breath and roll with it.
“Control, Control, 922.” This is a new voice, the backup I sent taking charge of the radio. I grab my mic, other hand poised over the 9 key on my phone. “Go ahead 922, Control over.”
“Stop. Stop. Stop. Situation under control. Returning to your location, over.”
“922, confirm that assistance is not required please, over.”
“That is a yes yes, control. Mobile to your location.”
“Glad to hear it, 922, I look forward to it. Control out.” My sigh of relief is loud enough to get a smile from the last remaining first aider in the treatment area. She grins at me over the head of a vomiting bloke. I grin back and then look back at my phone when it buzzes a text. 921 was clear as well, and heading back to the first aid room. I smile again to myself, everything was going to plan again.
I do like it when things go to plan.
Wow, been a while since I’ve been on here… Excuse me while I dust of the cobwebs, and begin again with a bit of a rant.
Okay, rapid catch-up: A few months ago, The Organisation went through a bit of a restructure, from Counties to Regions. The basic idea (as far as I can see) was to save some money, by cutting back on some of the admin staff and other things that could be merged and getting rid of things we don’t really need, and to help standardise things across the country. The former is a very laudable goal, if a bit distant from much of the membership, who never really saw the extent of the financial trouble we were in. The latter I think is almost essential. As an organisation, we have had one qualification meaning a hundred different things across the county (sometimes from one unit to another), and that’s just not good enough.
As part of the first goal, budgets were centralised and management of money has moved up a level or two in the leadership structure, and this has caused my first rant. Let me get this clear, I’m not particularly in favour of this change, but I can see how, with a bit of shift in the way we think about things, it could be a good thing. There is no way we could carry on with people spending more money than they were bringing in, and some people refused to take responsibility for their own budgets. Now they don’t have to. The idea is that, if there is a legitimate need for something, and the money to afford it, the Region will pay for it. I can see how this could go wrong, but properly dealt with (from all levels), this could be a good thing.
Now here’s the bit that bugs me: we have had a rash of people crying ‘they’re taking away our money!’ and ‘now we’ll do all the work and they’ll get all the benefit!’ I could understand it a little from of the members who haven’t had things explained to them very well, but from some of the leaders, who I swear are just refusing to understand, this isn’t good enough. It was never ‘our money’ or ‘your money’ or ‘my money’. It is the Organisation’s money. It is charitable funds that have we have to use to pursue our charitable goals. End. Of. Story.
Now, foolishly, in the past, I’ve tried to explain to people how the ‘them doing all the work’ business probably won’t happen. After all, the people doing all the first aid, and bringing in all the money from events, they will be the people who need the uniforms, the consumables and access to vehicles. If people aren’t going out to events, what are they going to use the money on? Of cause, they don’t listen, and I’m beginning to think this is because they’ve got their heart set on being annoyed by the changes.
Which brings me on to my next point. This is a significant change in the way we work and the way we will have to approach practically everything we do. Change will always meet resistance, and it will always upset people. This isn’t an excuse to treat people badly, and it’s quite possible that some people have been treated less than ideally. There have also been some controversial decisions made by many people (past and present), and someone will always take these personally, whatever the intentions behind them. If you’re unhappy, that’s fine (er… you know what I mean…). I’ll quite happily sit down with you, let you rant away to a listening ear sympathetic ear if you think it will help you. (I’m getting good at letting such things wash over me…) I just don’t think that mouthing off about each other in public is helpful. Especially given that it looks so one-sided (the ‘bad-guys’, so to speak, are being quite reserved in public). All you’re achieving is winding some people up (which I’m beginning to think is your intention) and alienating others, and the last thing we need right now is division. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that perhaps, if we tried to pull together, to change things and allow ourselves to change, maybe things would start working a little sooner.
Maybe I’m hopelessly idealistic or naïve. Perhaps this is all a disaster waiting to happen and I just can’t see it. Or perhaps it’s just another challenge, and we’ll come out stronger on the other side. More importantly we’re only just three months into this new structure. We can’t expect everything to fall into place straight away. And it won’t be perfect, because nothing is, and that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth working for.
Just because there’s no light at the end of the tunnel yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Nearly three years ago now, I responded to a plea for help from Mrs BigPara to help her get the local Youth Unit back on its feet again after their last leader abruptly left. I was a unit leader, disillusioned by the constant battles to get things done at my unit, looking for something new to do, but stuck in my role until Easter.
About four months later, after stepping down from my leader role, I transferred to the Youth Unit, and took on the secretary role. I learnt how to march, how to parade, how to stand up and hold the attention of ten to twenty 10-18 year olds. I built up my confidence, going from the timid helper with no clue about teaching, to a confident (ish) leader.
A year down the line I became the Leader, and worked hard to make the unit my own. It took time and energy, perhaps more than I should have spared from my degree, but it paid off. I had a full unit with young people who always made me proud.
And then I graduated from university, and got a real job as an engineer. Out of necessity, I moved from UniTown to BigCity, and the far side at that. Suddenly the unit I could get to without a problem became an hour’s train journey from home. And the easy cycle home became the risky game of ‘catch the last train’. I never got caught out, but some nights it got mighty close. I’ve had more than one mad rush from platform to platform to make my connection.
I stuck with it. I didn’t want to let the unit down.
A couple of months of this wore me out. Too many late nights and sleepy days at work. I still didn’t want to let them down, but I couldn’t carry on.
A little over a month ago, with lots of deliberation, and more than a little upset, I put in my notice. The end of the year, I said, and then no more.
It felt like a dive off a cliff. A load of stressing and building up courage, and then nothing. Free fall.
A month passed, making plans for the future. Doing my best to keep things going till I left, then smoothing over the join. Business as usual, to a point.
Then, all of a sudden, it was our last night. Our Christmas party. An excuse to do not a lot, and to socialize. I spent a lot of time getting the next leader sorted, then went to chat to the kids. I didn’t spend as much time with them as I should have, but I got a lot done. I hope that my work will have smoothed over the transfer.
And now I have a little work left over, and then done. A youth leader no more.
And it’s a bit strange. I fully expected a lurch as it all finished, a final thud as I hit the ground. Instead it just feels, well, finished, I suppose. After all the stress of handover, I’m done, and while I’m sad, it still feels almost right. I’ve played my part, built it up, and now it’s time to let someone else take it further.
And now I need to find something else to do. I’ve still got all the clinical work I do, the service delivery as it’s now named. I’ve become increasingly active as an ambulance crew. Also, part of me itches to take on a new management role. There is the rumor that there is a cycle response leadership role coming up, which has captured my attention. It’s still only a rumour, but if it does materialise, I am definitely going to think users about applying. After all I have grumbled about our past leadership, I think it’s time I put my money where my mouth is and actually put into practice what I have been preaching over the last 18 months.
I’ve also got a hundred other things I want to do, now I’ve hopefully got a little more flexibility in my schedule. I’ve not been able to get back into my music since I started being a leader in the Organisation. I’ve got my eye on a local wind band that may take me on, but I need to get back into practice first. I’ve got a year until I can properly settle back into something like that, so plenty of time to do some work…
I’m also looking into starting at the gym. I’m not in too bad shape, but I am now doing a desk job and don’t have a twenty-minute cycle commute anymore. I want to work on my strength a bit (I can’t really avoid lifting when doing ambulance work) and my general fitness, and this seems the best way for the moment.
How long it will all last remains to be seen, but it looks like a lot of new things for the New Year. These could be interesting times…
And, for no other reason than because I’m listening to it right now, I’ll leave you with Snow Patrol:
As I have mentioned a few times now, I am currently the leader of the local Organisation unit for young people. This means I am in charge of two other adults and twenty 10-18 year-olds, and am somehow responsible for making sure they become disciplined, confident and well-rounded individuals (which most of them are).
Now, I have been a member of this organisation for just under five years. The first three-ish years were spent in the university unit, which was fun at first, but in the end I had a falling out with two of the more influential members, and it became more trouble than it was worth to stay put. Somehow, I convinced myself (and was convinced) that it would be a good idea to work with young people, and I transferred to, and eventually ended up leading, the my current unit. In short, this was the best thing I could ever have done. While trying not to be over-dramatic, I am convinced that, had I stayed at the University unit, I would since have left the organisation, or at the very least be very fed up. Instead, I have had two of the most enjoyable years of my life, and I have grown very attached to all of the young people I work with.
Unfortunately, now that I am graduating, life gets more interesting. With my upcoming graduate program, I could end up changing where I am working every three months. I could end up spending three months working in the US, or Germany, or anywhere else that my company operates in. Add on to the fact that I won’t know where my first placement is until after my housing contract has ended, and this level of uncertainty is not really conducive to being a good leader.
I don’t want to leave my unit. I feel like I have really achieved something here, and without all the hassle of the politics involved in working with adults, and I also feel really guilty about being the fourth leader to leave them in as many years.
That said, I am about to embark on what could be a really exciting start to my career, and I am worried that if I feel tied down to a specific location, I am going to be unwilling to take up some of the opportunities I could get. I would love to go work in the US, even for a little bit. While part of me is keen to stay in the UK, I think I would be doing myself a disservice if I let these chances pass me be. It’s not as if I wouldn’t be able to volunteer in EMS elsewhere (even if I ultimately end up living outside the UK).
I think I’m going to have to have a long hard think about this, when all my university stuff is done, and I have a feeling I know what the answer will be.
It totally sucks, but I have a feeling I won’t be a youth leader for much longer.
I know I said I would do a series of posts on observations, and I still intend to, but at the moment real life is just getting in the way. This is just a quick update of what’s happening, and the next post will be about something I really need to get off of my chest.
So, I am rapidly approaching the end of my degree. My final report is due next Tuesday, and after the Thursday after that, I am done. Finished. Leaving my university and likely not coming back (except for graduation based stuff).
I’m not going to lie, it’s a scary prospect. Not accounting for my work placement, I’ve been in full-time education for 19 years. It is literally the only thing I can remember doing. As of September, I start on the beginning of what (at the moment, at least) will be a career in Engineering. Real engineering (it doesn’t get any more real than jet engines…), where the work I do actually has a real purpose.
I will be leaving behind what I know and am comfortable with, a huge number of my friends, and all the other benefits of student life. This is scary beyond belief…
In other news, I am currently bike-less again, as some idiot drove over the front wheel of my bike (fortunately while I wasn’t on it). Needless to say, this is very annoying, not least because I am currently sat on a bus that takes the most roundabout route home possible.
This year I am not going to the graduation ball. In fact, this is the first time since starting university that I’ve not been there in some kind of first aid capacity, and I have zero interest in going as a punter. I had intended to go as first aid, but I haven’t been asked yet, and the unit has upset one of my good friends, so we’ve decided to go on duty the next morning instead. The person who did the upsetting is now also not going, but I have managed to persuade my friend that it isn’t her problem any more (and so she doesn’t need to pick up the pieces after the very likely meltdown).
Speaking of meltdowns, the local adult division is currently having a very slow one. Three of the more progressive members have been made to feel very unwelcome, and so have walked away. As a result, their training program is steadily going down the pan, morale is going to drop (as people realise what they’ve lost), and its all going to go to hell. Of the units six-ish active ambulance qualified volunteers, they now have two actively refusing to do events, two prioritising county level events (me and CycleGuy), leaving two to (fail to) meet the units commitments (meaning other units have to help out).
On the bright side, my unit of young people is going strong. We have just had a very successful sponsored walk (where I got to legitimately play tag for the first time since I left junior school), and have half a dozen things planned for the near future.
Work is still being its normal irritating self (but that’s retail for you), and I’m doing far too many hours for the Organisation (no change there, then), and for the most part I’m enjoying myself.
When things start settling down, I will try to post more frequency. For now, I will get on when I can, and I’m still on Twitter (my lifeline when drowning in my project).
Now, to finish, another musical interlude. Enjoy 🙂
Morale seems to have hit an all-time low in the adult branch of the Organisation recently (or more specifically in this county, I can’t really comment on anywhere else). Attendance at duties is poor, attendance at training isn’t much better, my local Adult unit is about ready to tear itself apart and nobody can be bothered to change anything. For someone like me, who is really passionate about my work with the Organisation, this sucks.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not worried that everything is going to collapse around my ears. At present, we have far too much momentum to do that. It’s just seeing all the wonderful things we could be doing, and all the effort that people at all levels are putting in, and it just getting bogged down in a marsh of apathy, really gets me down.
Take the bikes. They are in dire need of some TLC, and the entire unit needs some strong leadership to get it back on its feet. It’s holding on in there, but only because there’s a few of us who won’t let it lie down and die. I know for a fact that there are people in positions of responsibility who would quite happily allow it to just fade away. They are doing a wonderful job of not letting us change anything.
Part of the problem is that the Organisation is going to be going through a restructuring at some point in the next year. Almost every position above unit leader level (like mine) will essentially be up for redefinition and reappointment, meaning that, when it’s all done, everything could change. In principle this is fine. It’ll mean a few fewer Chiefs, but most of us Indians won’t notice. In fact, given some of the members of senior staff in county office (lead cyclist included…), this could be a very good thing.
Unfortunately, everyone is using this as a reason not to make any changes to anything, as it might get changed back again later.
In my mind, this is a crap response. We shouldn’t be leaving things in a bad way, just in case our changes prove pointless. These things need changing now, not in however many months time, and I really think that this is contributing to our problems. County management don’t seem to care, so why should we lowly people on the ground (or on wheels, if your that way inclined…) There are a few of us trying to sort things out, but we keep getting fobbed off with this excuse, and it’s starting to get old…
And now, after that little rant, a musical interlude inspired by Zemanta‘s suggested links and tags:
Or if you have Spotify: All Time Low – Forget About It
Watch out, the video isn’t strictly safe for work (assuming your work even allows YouTube).
Perhaps I could make this a new feature…
So, I think I should do a bit of an update.
I’m currently in the middle of my final ever exams at Uni. I’ve done one, and have another three to go. I’m a bit stressed, as you can imagine.
It goes without saying that all the depression and anxiety are acting up, with all the problems that entails, not least because I still haven’t got around to doing anything about it…
On the bright side, I have just received confirmation that I have a graduate job with a big engineering company, doing pretty much the engineering I think I want to do. How it pans out remains to be seen, but at least its something to go in to while I worry about everything else. My plan has always been to get a graduate job, and then see what happens next. I can still go into nursing (or something else) later if things don’t work out, and in the meantime I can build up my savings, ready to go back to uni if the need arises.
Typically, now I’ve got this all sorted, I’ve got my project supervisor pestering me about doing a PhD with the uni. I’ll admit, the idea is slightly attractive, but not enough to make me abandon my longterm plans. I can’t justify further expense that could be on a doctorate in something I’m not that interested in as a career ( and I have no desire to be an academic…)
With the Organisation, it feels like we’re on the verge of mutiny with the local Adults. One member (who I have already introduced as CycleGuy) has jumped ship to join my youth unit, and the feeling is growing that two more may be planning to leave. To add to this, I have heard through the grapevine that the Adult leader may want a word with me about ‘stealing’ CycleGuy, after having both of us make it clear to him that the unit he held his membership at was his choice, and neither of I nor the Adult leader minded what he chose. The fact that CycleGuy and I both found this out through a third member doesn’t help the matter. Needless to say CycleGuy is slightly miffed (and I’m far from impressed).
I also know that CycleGuy (as well as HistStudent) wants to become my 2IC. I am a little sceptical, mainly because I worry that he doesn’t have the Youth Work experience, but my alternative is HistStudent who I know (at a gut level that is difficult to explain in words) would be wrong for the position. I have been putting off re-opening the position (long story…) because I can’t really face the interviews and the stress they’ll cause, but I don’t think it can wait any longer. I could be off for good in a few months time (sad times 😦 ), and someone needs to know what to do if I go.
I think that’s a catch-up of everything that’s been going on over here. I have an exam tomorrow, so I can’t stay up too much later. Fortunately I’m reasonably confident about this one (at least, everything is making sense).
Okay, I’m really rather excited again.
First things first, it looks like I’ve passed the last bit of my ambulance crew training. This means I’m now fully qualified to crew an ambulance (eep!) and transport an emergency patient (ahh!). I have a year’s probation to complete, but that only limits who I can crew with (which doesn’t change anything, because I can’t drive). Given the number of sleepless nights the course caused me, as well as how long I spent training, this is really good news. It might mean I can’t cycle as much as I’d like to (which is sad 😦 ) but it will definitely open up a few new opportunities of events I can get to.
Second, I have just heard when I am getting my first duty on an ambulance: at the end of the week… I qualified on Sunday… In the upcoming three-day event, I am on an ambulance for two days (during which I’m almost certain to get something…) and am in charge of people on the remaining one. This is even more scary. I have never had actual responsibility at a major event. Well nothing more than “Keep an ear on the radio, I’m just going to the loo.” Being in charge of about one-third of the foot patrols present is not something I’d expected to do, not least because I’d expected to spend most of the days as a foot patrol myself, or in a treatment centre at best.
So yes, life is getting interesting in the Organisation at the moment.
Oh, and try not to get injured if you’re attending a three-day event this weekend. It might just be me taking you to A&E.
Well, try not to get injured anyway…
It’s now confirmed. I am now an Assistant Leader down, and there is probably nothing I can do about it.
Of cause, he hasn’t actually had the courtesy to phone me, or email me, or otherwise get in touch, electronically or otherwise. Nope, I have found this out by him not turning up to the meeting today. Oh, and he’s updated his current location on Facebook to somewhere suitably distant from here.
Needless to say, I am furious. Not only did he put me in a position where, if I hadn’t heard rumours, I would have been an adult down on an already hard day, as well as nearly landing me without any session next week, I think it’s just downright rude. How difficult is it for him to send me some form of message, explaining that he couldn’t come down any more.
As an aside, this has probably ruined any chance of me getting a decent night’s sleep, which is just what I need when I have work tomorrow…
Somehow, the summer holiday has flown past, and the new school year has started. This evening, I have the first Youth group meeting of the academic year. I’m not sure if I’m more glad that we’re back, or nervous that it’s all going to go wrong. It’s been an interesting year already, and it’s only just started…
A couple of days ago, I discovered that it is likely that I’m an adult down this week. And not just any adult, but my Assistant Leader. This is not helpful. Of cause, I don’t know if this is true, because I haven’t spoken to him since the end of term, and isn’t answering my calls or returning my messages. In fact, very few people have heard from him recently, and then only when he didn’t have their number. This is less than useful, as it means I’m now just below the ratio I need to run the unit properly (though Safeguarding have said it’s not a major issue, as long as it doesn’t last too long)…
This also means that I now have to run one of the subjects this term. Which I didn’t want to do. Okay, I might enjoy teaching, but I really could do with the time to deal with the other parts of my role, like the paperwork, the dealing with parents, and all the other bits of day-to-day running that it would be good to do while everyone is worrying about keeping the young people busy.
On the bright side, I now have three non-commissioned officers to help me out. These are young people who are given greater leadership and organisational responsibility within the unit, to give them new experiences, and to give us adults a hand. I plan to hand off a reasonable chunk of work to them, in the hope that they can get on with it with minimal supervision, and so make it less of a problem that I’m an adult down. I have a meeting with them tonight, and hopefully I will soon have someone responsible for getting our members out to events, someone else responsible for maintaining uniform standards, and another person to help maintain discipline, as well as supervising the other two and helping out with the training.
Now I just have to write my lesson plans, advertise for a new adult and a new Assistant Leader, as well as all the normal new year stuff that will likely take ages.
Sounds like fun…