I think we can all agree that 2020 will go down as one of the most difficult and challenging years any of us have ever faced! The fire service was impacted at every level, from a pandemic that took the lives of over hundred firefighters and EMS members, the cancellation of our biggest conference (FDIC), to how we respond to calls, riots and even attacks on our firefighters.
As our history as shown again and again, the American Fire Service stepped-up and took care of business! Our profession is the definition of "adapt and overcome". It does not matter if our staffing, pay, equipment and benefits are lacking. It would not matter if the virus turned people into fire breathing zombies, the fire service would just develop a zombie killing bar that shoots water into their flesh eating mouths and then ask "what else you got!" This is exactly why were the greatest profession in the world!
I know and understand it's hard to stay motivated and engaged, especially when we are facing so many obstacles. I'm asked all the time, "how do I stay motivated?" This is an internal battle we are all faced with and there is no magic pill to take, there is no perfect answer to provide. I can only share what I have done and continue to do to stay motivated.
Remind yourself and those you work with what we are here for! At 0300, a 5 year old child is trapped on the second floor, the first floor is heavily involved in fire. Who is going to rescue her? I love this message "No One Else Is Coming, It's Up To Us!" Remembering that we are the last line of defense in this situation should be motivational for us all.
We make a difference everyday, sometimes you have to take a step back to see this. One of my favorite examples of this is when your called out to help someone off the floor. Yes, I know that seems very trivial, but think how your helping that person that can no longer help themselves, think how a little compassion to assist this person makes them and their family feel. What if the difference is something as simple as having a conversation with another firefighter struggling with a personnel issue? We make a difference in more small ways everyday, we just don't realize it.
Today could be the day! One thing that always motivated me to train every shift was that one simple thought. What if today is the day we have to rescue multiple people, what if this is the day one of our own goes down, what if the next call is the "Big One!" Unlike most professions, there is no schedule to when we will be called upon to perform or even what we will have to do. Job Ready is a critical element of our profession and at the end of the day should be our top priority every shift.
Pride and teamwork drive motivation. When we work and have fun together, motivation and pride come together. Company projects can spark motivation and this teamwork builds trust and pride. We adopted a very simple concept, we did not complain about the other shift not doing something, we would take care of the project or issue and would ensure it was done in a way that was obvious. This included how the hose was loaded to how the yard looked. The amazing thing was as we showed more pride, the other shift did as well. This pride in our station, rig, and training drove motivation and teamwork. Overtime we saw our surrounding companies take on the same attitude and pride.
Be the example, it starts with you! The only person that can control our attitude is ourselves. When we allow others to drag us down, when we start listening to those that are not into the job, we can easily fall into the trap. Positivity and enthusiasm are very contagious emotions, they are hard to ignore. A easy starting point is getting to the station early, this is quickly noticed by those you are relieving and by your crew when they see your car in the lot before them. Spend more time on your tasks; full equipment checks, donning gear, EMS equipment, tools, cleaning the rig or the kitchen, again these things are hard to ignore. If no one wants to train, do it yourself by reading something, attend a class on your off day, work on survival skills, again this set's an example. The key to being a motivational example is consistency, in other words to improve your attitude and motivation, you have to do it every shift. Not an easy task, start small and build upon each success.
None of us know what 2021 will bring, it could be calm and back to normal or it could be fire breathing zombies! No matter what, the fire service will be there and as usual will take care of business. We want to wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy New Year.
If you have any questions or would like more information on building a positive attitude, please contact us.