Training for safety and efficiency
Well-trained individuals and teams have clarity around their day to day responsibilities, and clear expectations from colleagues and mutual aid partners when disasters happen.
The Human Factor is the next article taken from the new guide on how to protect and strengthen your LMR system. If you missed the previous chapters you can read those here.
The Tougher LMR Networks guide investigates every aspect of wireless communications, and considers how operators might make their LMR systems more resilient.
You can also download the full guide and read it on the go.
Communication is an essential service, you are most likely already bound by regulation and compliance. Not all your solutions are strictly technical.
How you manage this aspect of your operation is a vital part of your reliability picture. Developing and enforcing robust processes, assigning clear responsibilities, and logical, well-understood procedures will reduce outage risk and support swift, decisive response to events.
Whether they are dispatching, monitoring, maintaining or simply communicating, your people’s competence and efficiency contribute significantly to the strength and reliability of your LMR system and the return on your communications investment.
Well-trained, consulted and engaged users, technicians and administrators, and robust Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are vital to getting the most out of the communications you have invested in.
It is not uncommon to see organizations fail to take full advantage of system features or upgrades. Resistance to technology can be linked to a lack of buy-in, when decisions are imposed without discussion, consultation or training.
Conversely, users who participate in decisions and changes are more likely to promote new solutions across the organization, adapting to and adopting the technology faster.
Even those who are initially reluctant, by involving them early have time to accept the change well before it is implemented.
It doesn’t matter how much you spend, and how advanced your technology, any communications system is only as good as the people who use it every day. It can be tempting to save on staff training, to rely on training on the job, self-training, or internal courses.
Unfortunately, this will most likely result in unforeseen future expenditure, in callout fees, higher maintenance overheads and users unable to communicate when they most need to.
Better training means better technical judgement to manage risks and ultimately, safer workers.
A well-resourced training plan will retain organizational skills, get new workers up to speed quickly and support existing staff to continually refresh and update their knowledge. It should include hands- on experience for all users, together with scheduled repeats and refresher courses.
The best starting point is to scope the potential training requirements and plan what is needed by when. You need to identify who is responsible for that training, whether it is formal or informal, and whether you will involve trainers from outside your own organization.
Your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) determine the best way to perform the multitude of tasks your people carry out on a daily basis. With the focus on efficiency, effectiveness and safety, the SOPs relating to communications impact directly on the strength of your LMR system.
Clearly, a new communications system will trigger substantial changes in communications SOPs, for both your back office and front line staff. But even without those changes, your processes should have regular, scheduled reviews.
Ask these questions:
- Is your system used the best way it can be?
- Are all the right people involved in standard communications procedures?
- Are some people involved but should not be?
- Do some procedures put an unnecessary burden on users or slow down the exchange of information?
- Will changes to SOPs impact on interoperability with other organizations?
Once the task of producing and reviewing SOPs is completed, it is easy to assume that the job is done. However, while SOPs make excellent training resources, they should never replace the training itself. SOP changes should trigger refresher training to keep everyone up to speed and working efficiently.
One critical aspect of communications SOPs is how you will interoperate with others during planned or unplanned events and disasters. This requires cooperation with all the other parties you have mutual aid agreements with, or will need to support, to ensure that everyone’s SOPs align and are well understood.
Allow access to sites and groups as-needed only.
- Limit monitoring/scanning.
- Limit groups on the system.
- Enforce incident discipline of communications.
- Train your people to ensure they understand what is required of them.
Users as stakeholders
At any decision making point, user opinions must be represented, to ensure the communications meet their needs. They need to be consulted and informed so that they can embrace the technology you have invested in, and embrace change when necessary.
Typical internal stakeholders should include:
- radio users,
- system administrators,
- technical personnel.
A simple way to keep these stakeholders engaged is user satisfaction surveys. Conducting simple surveys may generate ideas to improve your SOPs, or identify training needs. The opinions of users are well worth listening to.
This article is taken from the 10 part guide to Tougher LMR Systems.
If you would like to download this article and the other articles in the series you can do that on the Tait website.