19 April 2008


The ambulance company has been having morale problems for quite some time now and the peon grumbling was finally loud enough for management to notice. Constantly changing paperwork requirements leading to crews being threatened for incomplete paperwork, government fines, being promised and trained for new equipment that never arrives on the trucks, and generic job dissatisfaction all pop up.

So what is management to do? Well, if you're a fan of Dilbert, observant of management in general, or just pessimistic, you're probably guessing that they implemented something which does not actually address any of the problems. I'll just call it the "Superstar!" program (envision SNL's Molly Shannon in classic cheerleader lunge wiggling fingers at you). We are to nominate employees who go above and beyond the call of duty; said employees are entered into a monthly drawing to win a prize to be named later, usually a gift certificate or something reasonable at least. My issue isn't with the desire to recognize good employees - the point is that it doesn't actually address the problem and, at least at the north station, has become an object of ridicule.

Yesterday was another ambulance day where we mostly drove around helping people rather than transporting them or providing much medical assistance. We spent an hour with a diabetic, went for a medical alarm activation, a couple of accidents, someone with pancreatitis. On several of these calls, The Asian did things that were truly above and beyond, including cooking lunch and calling a utility company. These are not things he does for recognition, but things he considers part of his duty as a patient advocate. But that doesn't mean that I don't get to spend most of the afternoon telling him he was a "Superstar!" and I was going to send my nomination immediately and others in the station coming up with all sorts of things he's done which could potentially nominate him. He actually already got nominated one month, but I didn't have anything to do with that one. I guess it helps morale because it gives us a common object of ridicule, but really, we don't need help with that.

What would actually help?
  • Employees being held to the recognized job standards. If you're not doing something you're supposed to do, or doing a shitty job of it, something should happen. Not necessarily being immediately fired, but some sort of discipline where you understand that this is not acceptable.
  • Understanding that sending paperwork back to crews for errors made by discharging staff is ridiculous, without having to listen to 4 weeks of crew complaints before they figure it out.
  • Hold off on training about equipment to come until said equipment actually arrives. Many of us have already lost our passwords for the new electronic patient care reports and nobody even knows when the computers will officially go live.
  • Pay equity.
  • Supervisors responding to problems in the station sometime before they become critical, quick examples: a toilet that leaks so long that the hallway 8 feet away smells like pee, a water leak inside that covers two beds in mold.
These are concrete things that could've been done instead of the token popularity contest, but they are also things which would cost time or money. I will at least give credit that things are improving slowly (the two problems above are being addressed) and I'm not sure where the motivation finally came from, but I'll take what I can get.

1 comment:

Ellie said...

It's funny when management can't see the forest for the trees. Sorry to hear the toilets still don't work properly.
The equipment thing it so true. When I visited in March of 2006, new toys were shown to me that are still not on the trucks.