19 August 2008


In this lovely ambulance co, we have Road Safety. Essentially, a data recorder keeping track of everything that goes on in the trucks. How fast you drive, whether you're wearing a seat belt, how quickly you corner, how aggressively you accelerate, how often you stop abruptly, whether or not you have a "spotter" for backing up, whether your emergency lights are on, whether your headlights are on, I swear the list is nearly endless. As if it isn't aggravating enough to feel like you're being constantly watched, most of these criteria are also attached to an audible alarm in the truck so you know exactly when you are exceeding the recommended levels.

Some years, the six month summary is made available on each employee's driving record so you have time to "improve". The records are supposed to be anonymous so you can't find anybody's record but your own. The company sets acceptable levels of how many "naughty" noises you can receive and still be employed. That level amounts to one mistake every 8 miles, not a terribly stringent standard. And yet, somehow the standard is not the standard.

A supervisor, not the one who does my reviews, pulled me into the office to discuss my driving. Not based on complaints from anyone but based on the six month summary. I am meeting the standard, but not meeting his expectations. "You really need to do better. Just because you drive so many transfer miles shouldn't excuse this." Hmm, here I thought that was exactly the point of tracking miles per error because the more you drive, the more likely it is that errors could happen which don't entirely reflect your ability.

I suppose as a paramedic and a supervisor, it might be easy to forget a couple of key facts. 1. Many times when he is driving, the patient is not critical - I know this because he is driving. Many times when I am driving, the patient is critical and time is a factor so I am working to drive both safely and quickly. Lights and sirens on 911 calls where we run all the time is not too bad. The same through a large city with narrow roads, limited room to adjust, and the potential for getting lost is a challenging driving environment. 2. If the company sets a standard and an employee meets it, that should be the end of the official story. A constructive suggestion, maybe. Angry words and "disappointment", no.


manchmedic said...

If it's the supervisor I'm thinking it could be, I'm sure I'd have some "constructive" words for him myself.

And if you got "spoken to", I can hardly wait to see mine - I'll probably get fired.

Ellie said...

Ah, road safety. When I try to describe it to people at my current job, I get looks like I have lobsters coming out of my ears.
Even now, when I am driving, I anticipate the little growl sometimes. Thankfully, here I can throw the patient and my partner around as much as I want.