When you are putting out fires, helping an elderly man back to his bed after having fallen, cleaning up after a broken water pipe, or taking a blood pressure, you are providing a service to your users. They sought you because they knew you would help. We have a leg up on everyone else when it comes to determining what service is desired by our community and who the taxpayers, visitors, and workers will call when they need that help.
Our particular niche does, in fact, give us an advantage and yes, there are a limited amount of resources the community can call upon to provide that service, to believe we have a corner on the market would be ill-advised. Just when you think you are the only game in town, I reassure you that someone else can come along and change that for you. Therefore, let’s not argue about what we call it. We already provide customer service. We simply need to accept it for what it is and not complain about it, resist it, or eliminate it from our mission.
But who made the decision that this mission couldn’t be fun? When we show up on a scene, we already make ourselves memorable by injecting it with a level of personality. The attitude we should be taking, however, is a light-hearted one, not grumbling because someone had a need they couldn’t address and called us for help. We should consider that we have created a level of trust in our ability to resolve the issue or else we wouldn’t have been called at all.
In 2006, a survey published in Forbes magazine revealed that the most admired profession in the United States was that of a firefighter. Singapore in 2009? You got it: Firefighter. In 2013, Reader’s Digest Australia reported that with our friends down under, “firies” and paramedics shared the top spot. Emergency service personnel consistently share places on these lists with nurses, physicians, and scientists. I can’t understand how, with the level of trust and admiration that consistently is heaped upon us, that we wouldn’t be rejoicing in that fact and reflecting it in how we serve others, rather than being so cynical about it? Do you feel like the cynicism makes you cooler than the poor victim that needed your help?
We were asked to intervene in someone’s personal crisis when we get called. It may not seem like much sometimes, and sometimes, I admit, I’m a little peeved that people don’t seem like they take the time to solve their own problems first before calling 9-1-1. But how is getting angry at those individuals going to eliminate the situation. If we need to stop “frequent flyers” and false calls, we need to go to the root of the problem, not make the individuals feel stupid when we show up to see what they need.
So tomorrow, let’s look at how to improve our customer service by treating the situation for what it is: a need for resources that the individual doesn’t have. That’s why they call you.