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Ambulances & Programming

Training, Always


It’s been almost a month since I wrote my last post about having been asked to start training someone. It’s been a month that’s absolutely flown by. This one is less a post and more a collection of thoughts that training has given me.

Pass it On

I’m proud of of how training’s gone, both proud of myself and proud of my trainee. I kind of covered this in my last post, but I’ve taken a trainee from blank slate to a competent call handler who can save lives. If that’s not something to be proud of, I don’t know what is! My trainee — we’ll call him Michael — came from advising at 111, which while theoretically similar has some major differences, in particular (unsurprisingly) in the level of urgency of the calls.

In the last 10 shifts he’s had some major changes to deal with. The first shift or two were all observation: watching and learning. Having just come from a training environment where calls can be taken slowly and explained, to a live emergency control room where things are done much faster, decisions are made on the spot… it’s a lot to take in. We build up from there: from just watching to just typing while I talk, or just talking while I type. Turns out that this was one of the hardest parts for me — only doing half the job is much harder than having control of all of it myself!

From there we keep progressing: from just half the job to talking and typing together while I watch on and guide for the last 5-6 shifts. Ultimately, the aim is that I’m not needed by the last shift, to the point where in the last two shifts I was sitting on a “service obs” position on the other side of the room — still watching via the systems and listening into the conversation, but not sat right there directing the call any more.

From shift 1, when I dealt with a cardiac arrest and Michael was more than slightly incredulous at how calmly I’d done it — to shift 10, when he dealt with a cardiac arrest and a stabbing during his assessment — is a hell of a lot of learning in 120 hours.

Continuing the Line

One of the things I really am proud of is that my trainee passed assessment first time. It’s not something that matters in the slightest, really — lots of call handlers don’t pass first time, because it’s a lot to learn and not very long to teach it — but it’s a nice boost that the experienced supervisor who took the assessment thinks I did it well enough to pass first go. That makes my trainee number 5 in a line of no misses — I passed first time, as did my trainer, and his trainer, and her trainer, going right back to when our current training system started.

It wasn’t just me training this time — we had three new trainess start at the same time. One of my colleagues who started with me was picked to train one of the others. We’d never have told the trainees — more pressure is not what they need — but we had a bet on: if only one of us got their trainee passed first time, the “winner” got drinks bought for them next time we’re all out… so despite getting my trainee passed, it’s a bittersweet victory, because we both did, so we’re both buying our own drinks!

Hopefully, that unbroken line continues on — in a year’s time, it’ll be my trainee sitting in the seat I’ve been in for the last month, training number 6.

Continuous Training

This hasn’t just been training for Michael — it’s been eye-opening for me, too. There are things that I was trained on that I just accepted; there are things that I just do without thought, because I know it’s necessary, and there are things that I do that go beyond what I’m technically required to, because it ensures patient safety and care. Michael has questioned me on all of those things extensively in the last month!

I’ve always been big on the theory that teaching helps you to learn the subject yourself too. This has only backed that up: I’ve had to be able to explain things, in detail, in an accessible way, which has helped me rationalise why I (or the service) do things that way.

I’m also not just a call handler now — I’m a trainer call handler, and I can legitimately call myself one of our senior call handlers. That means that while I already had a bit of a reputation for knowing the systems, I’ve now got something to point to that shows my experience and that I can be relied on to help other staff.

training development
Written on June 15, 2021