Views & Opinions

Shadowing: Day Trips

Hello!  It’s great to have you back.  How are you doing with finding a mentor?   If entering into a Mentoring Cycle is too much of a commitment right now, no worries.  There are lots of ways to manifest growth that don’t require a long commitment. With so many paths to growth, we may overlook the short ones that are right under our nose.   You may be surprised in what you can learn on a Day Trip in just a few hours by shadowing a work group that you interact with regularly.

Whether you work for a large or small agency, there is much to learn about how the agency works, the role and function of different divisions, software applications used, and how the information that you retrieve and process fits into the grander scheme of things.  Even a field ride-along can result in a growth opportunity.  You can expand your knowledge of geography, the nuances of the response area, gain an understanding of the equipment in a fire apparatus or patrol vehicle, learn how the mobile computer works and ascertain why field units need the information you provide. You may become enlightened to the point of identifying process improvements that can result in greater efficiency or improved customer service for your community and those served.

If you are already an expert on all things in your agency, consider reaching out to others within your city, county or region. Maybe there is a service provider you deal with that you want to learn more about; a social service agency, air or ground ambulance provider, or utility company.  Your objective in these visits is to expand your knowledge of how they work so that you can be better informed when you contact them.  Maybe you could take the information you glean back and share with others.

Another great Day Trip is to a peer 911 Center that you interact with frequently or one that uses the same CAD or 911 vendor as you.   As strange as it sounds, it may be best to start with the agency that is the most difficult to deal with.   Once you see their environment and understand the tasks they are navigating, you may learn ways that you can interact with them more easily.  Or, you may be able to offer information in how you accomplish the same thing more easily.  Visiting an agency that uses the same CAD or 911 system can result in expanded knowledge of ways you can use the systems or a more effective way to complete transactions.

One of the most valuable things you gain when shadowing is an expansion of your network.  Make sure you exchange contact information with those you meet and offer to share information with them in the future.  The next time you need to research a topic or need assistance figuring something out, you will have new resources to call on.  Who knows, you may even make a new friend. Speaking of making friends, it’s always kind to bring treats when visiting another agency.  Ice cream or chocolate are always a good choice.

Our goal in this blog series is to help you to develop, formally and informally.  Reaching out within your agency, community or a nearby 911 Center in an informal way to grow passively.  Growth is growth, however; and growth that can occur in a few hours during a Day Trip is a bonus.

We hope to see you back next week where we will explore other ways you can manifest growth.  Don’t forget to look for joy!

Content Contributed by AZ APCO-NENA Executive Board Member Kimberly Clark, ENP “The 911 Maven”

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