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Five Tips to Be a Successful HR Professional

Five Tips to be a Successful HR Professional

As an HR professional, you are constantly dealing with a variety of tasks, such as hiring new employees, implementing new processes and improving the work culture. You need a balance between managing data and incorporating the human element.

As technology advances, and more accessible software and applications become, it’s important to understand and use the right tools and systems to make your job easier. Here are five tips to help you make the very most of your career in human resources.

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Preventing Cancer in the Fire Service: What We Can Do to Reduce the Risk

Cancer Risks for FirefightersBy Marc Scheipe, Executive Vice President at TargetSolutions

Firefighting is dangerous. Everyone appreciates the perils of this valiant profession and the bravery our everyday heroes exhibit each time they run into a burning building.

What everyone hadn’t understood until more recently, however, was the fact firefighters face an additional threat beyond flames, smoke, and heat. That threat is cancer, which is now considered the No. 1 killer of firefighters, according to the International Association of FireFighters.

This alarming news is supported by the fact that over the past decade, more than 60 percent of the names added to the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial have died from occupational cancer. Leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma are some of the most common killers among firefighters.

At TargetSolutions, our customers often seek guidance on how to lower their risk profiles. Without question, training is critical. But this goes deeper than training. This goes to the culture of every fire department. To reduce cancer rates, the fire service needs to change longstanding traditions and mindsets around proper utilization and maintenance of turnout gear, as well as post-incident hygiene and exercise, among other things.

Many departments have recognized the need to this type of change and are now spreading the word and enforcing policies that mandate awareness and compliance with this shift in culture.

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Every Leader’s Nightmare: “I Don’t Trust You”

A Leaders Nightmare - I Do Not Trust YouBlog by Benjamin Martin

I hate to admit it, but unfortunately, as a leader, I know what the words “I don’t trust you” sound like. Perhaps the most frustrating part for me at the time I heard this, was that I didn’t know exactly what I did to earn this statement from the individual. I spent countless hours second-guessing myself, asking for other’s opinions and trying to find a way to reconnect with this person to get us back on track.

Worse yet, with each day, the distance between us seemed to grow larger and increasingly polarized our team. Our duty as leaders demands that we hold these types of events in private on behalf of the employee while we work through them – even if that person is willing to share their version of events. I heard things about myself that didn’t even remotely resemble what was happening and watched as previously healthy relationships suffered.

It left me wondering…am I even a leader? If so, am I a bad one?

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The Future of eLearning: A Look Ahead

 

 

As educational technology advances and becomes integrated into our daily lives, we can expect employees to utilize online education tools like never before. TargetSolutions recently had the opportunity to interview Victoria Zambito about the future of eLearning. Zambito serves as the Senior Vice President of Content and Communications for Vector Solutions, which is TargetSolutions’ parent company. Here is the transcript of the Q&A.

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Getting Things Done as a Leader in the Fire Service

In today’s 24/7 society we are constantly bombarded with “stuff.” Emails, text messages, errands, home repairs, training classes, personnel evaluations, pre-plans, building inspections, meetings – the list goes on and on. Additionally, as our involvement and positions evolve throughout our time in the fire service, the number of things we must deal with also increases. You don’t have to be around a firehouse kitchen table long until you hear someone, with some rank and tenure, long for the simple days of riding backward.

Leadership: Getting Things DoneWith NFPA 1021 as an outline, many training entities have developed certification courses to prepare individuals to become leaders in the fire service – from fire officer to chief officer. However, these classes don’t provide the tools students need to help manage the volume of “stuff”.

Getting Thing Done (GTD) is a simple system, developed by David Allen, that allows anyone to capture the things that have our attention, clarify what each thing is and what we want to do with it, organize it, and execute.

This system has five a 5-step process highlighting the things we need to do as leaders in the fire service: capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage.

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Fire Leadership Principles: The 10 Commandments of a Great Company Officer

Firehouse World 2018
During Firehouse World 2018, Deputy Chief of Operations for the Santa Clara County (CA) Fire Department, Steve Prziborowski, discussed fire leadership principles in his session: 10 Commandments of a Great Company Officer.

Blog by Hayley Aguilar of TargetSolutions

In a room full of fire service leaders, Steve Prziborowski, Deputy Chief of Operations for the Santa Clara County (CA) Fire Department, openly admitted he could have been a much, much better company officer, especially when it came to being a supervisor and a leader. He didn’t want to be “that guy”; meaning the designated adult that is supposed to at times say no, stop it, or knock it off. Instead, he wanted to be liked, wanted to avoid conflict, and did not want to rock the boat.

During Firehouse World 2018, Steve Prziborowski shared his insights into fire service leadership with his 10 Commandments of a Great Company Officer. After admitting that he was, at one point, a bad fire officer (not for operational purposes, but for leadership purposes), Prziborowski found that leadership can, and should be at times, lonely if you’re doing what is expected of you as a leader.

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Firefighter Health & Wellness: Sizing Up the Best Fire Rescue Workout Programs

fire rescue workout programs

Although fire departments across the nation are implementing fire rescue workout programs to keep their companies fit and prepared for duty, some are more effective than others. Aaron Zamzow of Fire Rescue Fitness breaks down the key points that every firefighter should keep in mind, including how to succeed when embarking on one of these fire rescue workout programs.

A 26.2-mile marathon awaits you in the morning. You’ve trained six days a week for this excursion, bulking up your pecs, chiseling your biceps, and perfecting your abs. You show up to the marathon with a toned upper body straight out of ancient Roman mythology that would make even the contestants on American Gladiators burn with envy.

One mile into the race you feel your legs tighten as a swarm of lesser-toned runners pass you by. You quizzically wonder where you went wrong; you’re in the best shape of your life but not even a tenth of the way into this thing and the buzzards are already circling. So what went wrong? Although you were in tip-top shape, the reality is you simply didn’t train properly for the physical demands of the challenge at hand.

fire rescue workout programs

Fire Rescue Fitness, owned and operated by Aaron Zamzow, has created a vast collection of fire rescue workout programs designed to keep firefighters “fit for duty.”

Just ask Aaron Zamzow, fitness expert and firefighter for the City of Madison Fire Department and founder of Fire Rescue Fitness, a company that specializes in products, services, and informational blogs with the goal to keep firefighters fit for duty.

When Zamzow first joined the service, he found himself out-muscled, outmaneuvered, and generally out-everything’d despite being the definition of fit. That’s because, as Zamzow recalls, he hadn’t trained for anything that firefighters regularly do. “I’m the Rudy of the fire service. I wasn’t trained for the firefighter work. I was getting beat by out-of-shape firefighters who smoke three packs a day.”

The hard reality is that if firefighters are not prepared for the rigorous physical demands that they’ll encounter on a daily basis, then they’ll soon find themselves just as out of breath and deflated as Zamzow was. For all intents and purposes, firefighters are occupational athletes. Lifting, crawling, pulling, hoisting, carrying; it’s an overtly physical job and there’s a lot to train for. But how firefighters train and prepare for those tasks is what’s so crucial. Tom Brady, for example, will train differently for his job than Serena Williams. Usain Bolt likely won’t be found doing Zumba and LeBron James probably doesn’t have much use for Crossfit. That’s not to say one training regimen is superior to the other, but your workout program should incorporate the movements that will set you up for career success.

Zamzow cites astonishingly hollow fitness programs that market themselves specifically for firefighters as a reason for his rude awakening. Such programs are wrapped in a pretty bow but fail to address the necessary physical trials that firefighters will have to go through. “I bought one of those programs and found it was nonsense,” recalls Zamzow. “There are a lot of false programs out there but you have to ask what makes it a firefighter program? Why is it geared toward firefighters?”

That’s where Zamzow decided to take matters into his own hands and developed a list of five key points that firefighters should take into consideration when evaluating their own fire rescue workout programs:

1) Developmental progression: Approach your program with the intent to gradually increase the intensity of exercise, which in turn will increase your strength and muscular development.

2) Make core strength a priority: 50% of firefighters will hurt their backs while on duty during their careers and lower back pain is the number one reason they retire early. Dedicate more time to core strength as you develop your program.

3) Focus on cardiovascular conditioning and recovery: Running and biking will get you from point A to point B, but interval training can bolster your cardiovascular conditioning. Because firefighters operate at 115-150% the normal heartrate, conditioning your body to respond to an increasing amount of stress is critical. Intervals call for a short burst of high intensity exercise (30 seconds, for example) followed by ample time to rest and recover (60-120 seconds).

4) Full-body functional strength exercises: Functional exercises are an approach to core training that increase balance around joints and help prevent injury by stimulating and stabilizing muscles.

5) Engage in active warm ups and flexibility training: Such activities prepare the body for movements, boost heartrate, and increase blood flow to the muscles.

The problem with implementing these types of fire rescue workout programs, Zamzow states, is that health, wellness and fitness in the fire service are relatively new concepts. As recently as ten years ago these types of fundamentals simply didn’t exist, but with the epidemics of cancer and poor health infiltrating the service, there’s been no better time than now to create a plan.

As with all grand plans, it’s important to start simple. Zamzow recommends foam rollers as the biggest bang for your buck as they allow you to use your own body weight to massage through adhesions that may occur in the muscles. This allows blood to flow more freely and encourages efficient healing and repairing.

“Now is the time to make a positive change in our industry,” said Zamzow. “Eat right, exercise, hydrate and set up an example for the community. Stay safe and train like a life depends on it.”

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

fire rescue workout programsAaron Zamzow is a firefighter and EMT for the City of Madison Fire Department in Wisconsin. He is also a degreed personal fitness trainer and author as well as the owner of Fire Rescue Fitness, a company dedicated to creating products and blogs focused on keeping firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics in top physical condition and “fit for duty.” He has 12 years of experience as a firefighter/EMT and another 20 as a fitness expert, training with elite athletes and studying with some of the top trainers in the world.

PTSD in the Fire Service: Escaping a Personal War Zone

fire service ptsd

For generations, fire service PTSD has been an unspoken and largely undiagnosed condition. However, understanding the circumstances that trigger fire service PTSD can lead to treatment, improved morale, and even save lives.

You don’t always get to choose your battles; sometimes they choose you. When that first call comes in, you don’t know what will be waiting on the other end; a burning building, a natural disaster, or an act of violence that requires prompt emergency medical services. But when the fires go out and the healing begins, the battles don’t always end. Compassion fatigue, burnout, and eventually post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can manifest themselves out of the mental and physical trials of the everyday first responder.

Understanding the symptoms that compound into PTSD and learning how to manage them won’t only improve morale, but can also save lives, according to Paul Costello, FF/EMT-P, a 25-year veteran of the fire service.

COMPASSION FATIGUE

Defined as “an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper,” compassion fatigue serves as a common precursor to PTSD.

While largescale emergencies and rescue operations do contribute to compassion fatigue, oftentimes it’s the mundane tasks that have the strongest impact on first responders. Fires are at an all-time low, meaning primary care and mental health calls will take up a majority of first responders’ time. Think of each company member’s psyche as a personal barometer; with each passing call, those barometers will gradually inch closer and closer to the end of the dial, signifying an escalating growth of compassion fatigue. While every individual’s barometer is different, the lurking danger of burnout will inevitably set in.

BURNOUT

Occupational burnout is defined as “a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”

Developing a negative worldview as a result of burnout doesn’t only run the risk of adversely affecting your personal life, but it is dangerously contagious to your family and colleagues as well. Think about the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed rookie arriving for his or her first day on the job and immediately assimilates to the burnout of a 20-year veteran. Influenced by how the veteran reacts negatively to day-by-day nuances, pretty soon the rookie exhibits his or her own gradual tilt into compassion fatigue and a faster descent into burnout.

Being the dull tool in the toolbox doesn’t just affect you, but it also affects outcomes.

“It’s almost cancerous in a manner of speaking with how it can impact your employees,” said Costello. “One of the things I firmly believe is it affects outcomes but you have to override it. Realize that you’re there as an advocate whether or not a call is exactly as dispatch has described it. It’s still that person’s emergency. You have to accept it as a reality in our profession.”

EMERGENCE OF FIRE SERVICE PTSD

Like a wildland blaze at the height of fire season, PTSD will overwhelm first responders in the form of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, sleep deprivation, panic attacks, and violent or suicidal thoughts. While many cases compound through a linear ascension of compassion fatigue and burnout, single traumatic events, such as the recent shootings in Las Vegas, can profoundly accelerate the symptoms of PTSD.

Despite glaring warning signs, the fire service maintains a troubling track record of refusing to seek help. The idea that an individual will be seen as weak or passed over for promotion if they seek counseling are common concerns for the everyday firefighter, but this type of self-deprivation creates a vicious cycle of compassion fatigue which leads to burnout and eventually develops into the bottomless pit of fire service PTSD.

NEED HELP? GET HELP

Just as you rely on your crew when entering a burning building, you certainly don’t have to fight PTSD on your own. Some insurance plans in the fire service feature an employee assistance program that provides a certain number of free visits to a licensed clinical social worker or behavioral therapist. These sessions provide you an outlet to unload your feelings and emotions while receiving guidance on how to deal with them in the future.

Are you a chief? Sometimes the most powerful form of leadership is to lead by example. Dental visits are recommended twice per year; why doesn’t mental health carry the same weight? Normalizing annual “tune-up” visits to a cognitive therapist is a healthy way to stay on top of PTSD. When an effective leader can sympathize with what a company member is going through, crews will want to emulate that behavior.

“This is a tough business that’s a slog at times with daily wear and tear,” said Costello. “You’re dealing with other people’s problems and emergencies and trying not to let the process as a whole grind you down. Whether your career is 20, 25, 30 years, if you’re going to be successful you’re going to have to have these tactics to defend yourself.”

Fire Service Health and Safety Part I, the first installment of a two-part online training series from TargetSolutions, explores numerous topics pertaining to firefighter health and wellness, including a section dedicated to anxiety and fire service PTSD.  The course outlines the
concepts, science, and economics of fire service-related health and safety as modern firefighters need to understand these interconnected concepts.

Understand your limits, seek treatment, and then pass on that knowledge to future generations. You’re not in this alone.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

ABOUT THFire Service PTSDE CONTRIBUTOR

Paul Costello is a veteran paramedic, firefighter, fire service instructor, and TargetSolutions subject matter expert who has assisted in the development of numerous fire-related training courses. He played a pivotal part in the direction and production of TargetSolutions’ award-winning 1410 Evolutions training bundle, a 14-course video-driven series that was shot on location with the St. Charles Fire Department in St. Charles, Missouri and Pasco County Fire Rescue in Land O’ Lakes, Florida.

Biographical Drama ‘Only the Brave’ Refuels the Firefighter Film Genre

Blog by Greg Baldwin
Marketing Content Specialist at TargetSolutions

Films inspired by the fire service have a habit of settling their themes around the “Man vs. Fire” climactic battle, leaving the story and plot as a mild formality. The recently released Only the Brave, directed by Joseph Kosinski, completely rewrites the firefighter film formula and serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the eyes of danger.

Based on the true story of the Yarnell Hill Fire near Yarnell, Arizona in June 2013, the story follows superintendent Eric “Supe” Marsh (Josh Brolin) of the Prescott Fire Department and his Type 2 battalion (also known as “deucers”) as they strive to one day become certified Type 1 (also known as hotshots). Supe is wise beyond his years and his crew operates as a well oiled high-performance engine, but despite these credentials their certification is still four years in the making. Things get testy when rookie Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller) is given an opportunity to earn a spot in the company. McDonough has just been kicked out of his mother’s house, has a child on the way, and bears a history of substance abuse. Paired with his poor physical conditioning and limited intellect, he’s branded the nickname “Donut” and is nearly dismissed on multiple occasions.

In a way, Donut’s exile into the real world from the sanctuary of his mother’s house is synonymous with the film’s theme of marching into danger and being forced to create something out of nothing. Laziness and abuse make up the only world that Donut has known, but that all changes as he confronts the crossroads in his life: take his limited fire experience and put it to good use with Supe’s department or continue his path to eventual self-destruction. Both decisions are dangerous but only one is correct.

The film succeeds in generating tension between Donut and his new company while subtly constructing the bonds that will eventually bring them together as one unit: the Granite Mountain Hotshots. There is an instance where Donut can no longer handle the escalating hazing and stops short of punching one of his instigating comrades. In most other films, the punch would have been thrown and the team would be no less for the wear. In this case, Donut has too much to lose and the members of the company start to take notice when he refuses to give up despite his struggles. It’s the fact that he didn’t throw the punch (as he probably would have done as a junkie) that makes his colleagues start to respect him. Whether this particular altercation is based on fact or not, the traditional formula of the firefighter film genre would ultimately call for Donut to land the punch. No exceptions.

The landscapes of the film are nothing short of breathtaking and, at times, terrifying. Supe recalls an occurrence early in his career where he came across an engulfed bear fleeing from an inferno. “It was the most beautiful and terrible thing I have ever seen.” Utilizing a healthy blend of practical and CGI effects, the film brilliantly illustrates this contradiction in ways that no other firefighter film has ever done. To our protagonists, the intimidating panoramic landscapes aren’t comprised of beauty or nature; only fuel for the fire.

Sure to refuel the firefighter film genre, the emotionally supercharged Only the Brave has opened to unanimous fanfare with critics lauding its story, writing, acting, and stunning visual effects. While the epic is a work of fiction, the climactic event that it is based on is not, and that certainly hits home. As I sit behind my computer writing this, somewhere far away in another city, another state, another country, there is a cadre of brave men and women who are entering a fire zone right now and putting it all on the line. Sometimes we could all use a reminder about the realities of the dangers that the fire service faces every day. Today, Only the Brave is that reminder.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Greg Greg Baldwin Content SpecialistBaldwin joined the TargetSolutions team in June of 2015 and serves as the company’s Marketing Content Specialist. A graduate of San Diego State University with a degree in marketing, he played a key role in the development of the award-winning NFPA 1410 Evolutions series as one of two videographers on location in St. Charles, Missouri. Greg is a veteran volunteer of the local animal shelters, having won County of San Diego Volunteer of the Year honors in 2013 for his implementation of a digital marketing program.

Top 5 Fire Training Scenarios for the Effective Firefighter

Running specific fire training scenarios at your training complex will boost confidence, expand knowledge, and promote valuable teamwork when prepping your cadre for the real thing.

An ongoing debate endures over whether money buys championships, a concept that can be applied to many of life’s little nuances. But the reality is what good is having the best that money can buy if you’re not prepared to properly use it? The same could be said for a firefighter’s training program. Your training grounds may be packed with the most pristine resources available, but like a last-place ball club with a skyrocketing payroll, your gear is only as good as the plan you develop for using it.

Scenario-based training for firefighters is a must for preparing your battalion, executing successful operations, and saving lives. Paul Costello, FF/EMT-P and certified fire service instructor, recently sat down with us to discuss a few fire training scenarios that can help prepare your cadre for the real thing.

1) EMS Training: Commonly known as one of the Toxic Twins, hydrogen cyanide is a chemical compound found in most working fires that effectively blocks the body’s cells from accepting oxygen. Implementing EMS into your program is one of the most valuable types of fire training scenarios that will prepare your battalion for tackling chemical inhalation, injuries, burn wounds and more. Costello discusses this further while referencing cardiovascular incidents leading to line of duty deaths; “Cyanide and its other twin carbon monoxide become a cardiovascular drag. If you already have a degree of heart disease that you didn’t realize, now you’re suddenly further impairing it, which is one of the known triggers of these line of duty cardiac arrests that occur during or after a fire.”

2) SCBA & PPE: Complacency is an all too familiar foe when it comes to reviewing and mastering the basics. How to don your gear with speed, the rules of air management, knowing how much air your body expends, and when to remove yourself from a fire are all fundamental necessities that every firefighter must review with a degree of regularity. “Regardless of discipline, going back to the basics is imperative and the fundamental knowledge could use a boosting from time to time,” commented Costello.

3) Truck Company Operations: Truck company operations are vital to any firefighting effort. Aerials and master streams, operated by specialists called “truckies,” offer the opportunity to maintain strategic holds on building fires and provide incident command with succinct control of the flow path into the structure through their ventilation efforts. It comes down to skillset, orders from incident command, and not getting trigger happy with those 1,000 GPM master streams. Said Costello, “One alarm fire means you’re going to have X amount of engines, we’ll say three; a truck company, aerial or ladder, rescue, battalion chief or two, an air truck. Everything complements one another.”

4) Live Fire Training & Flashover Simulator: Whether it’s live fire evolutions in the tower, a burn room or a flashover simulator, all three scenarios serve the invaluable purpose of prepping firefighters for the real thing. Thermal dynamics, fire behavior, reading and controlling a fire are all beneficial for rookie firefighters and veterans alike. When structures start to burn at 1,100 degrees and you’re surrounded by super-heated gas, relying on your training could save your life. Relayed Costello, “What it does is prepare the firefighter for the behavioral nuances experienced inside a burning structure. Adult learners master by doing, actually seeing that things are improving or getting worse and if they’re getting worse, what can they do?”

5) Tower Training: Physical agility, simulated high-rise drills, and live fire evolutions are just a few of the training exercises that towers provide. Each building takes on its own personality and unique architecture in providing important training exercises to battalions across the country. The ultimate game changer, Costello praised tower training for its versatility and value; “For the average firefighter who isn’t part of a specialized team doing high angle rescue, it’s a confidence builder in trusting your equipment and team and the basics of why we do this type of safety training.”

TargetSolutions offers a variety of interactive online training courses of the aforementioned fire training scenarios, plus a plethora of other topics. Manage your entire department’s training, simplify ISO, and stay on top of EMS recertification all from one centralized hub. For more information, please contact us today at (800) 840-8048.

ABOFire Training ScenariosUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Paul Costello is a veteran paramedic, firefighter, fire service instructor, and TargetSolutions subject matter expert who has assisted in the development of numerous fire-related training courses. He played a pivotal part in the direction and production of TargetSolutions’ 1410 Evolutions training bundle, a 14-course video-driven series that was shot on location with the St. Charles Fire Department in St. Charles, Missouri and Pasco County Fire Rescue in Land O’ Lakes, Florida.