A hazard by definition is an unavoidable danger or risk. It is a source of danger or is an agent that has the potential of causing harm. Some hazards are foreseeable. These are the ones we should focus on preventing and managing.The hazard that I believe is the number one threat in my department if an emergency occurs would have to be an inadequate staff which in turn forces the available staff to work overtime. As much as this may be good, it has its consequences. You find that a person who finished his 24-hour shift has to do another 24-hour shift. This becomes extremely exhausting. In the second shift, this person’s body is not capable of giving his all even if he is willing. The body demands rest to function properly, maximally, and efficiently. For a fire station like d2 which was ranked as the ‘busiest in the country’ in 2014, it gets very demanding. Responding to more than twenty thousand calls compared to the recommended three thousand five hundred calls annually is not easy. You become a hazard to the rest of your crew members especially when they need you and you are not in the capacity to be at your full potential.
Education is defined as “a process of imparting fundamental knowledge and the tools to use the fundamental knowledge to grow and expand beyond the base concept”. (Reference) When you are imparting this knowledge and tools to the public, it is public education.
For this public education, I will target my fellow firefighters, the management, and the national legislators and policymakers in charge of formulating the fire service regulations. Defining the target audience is important as it determines the content to develop for education strategies. This target audience was selected because of what drives and motivates them. For my fellow firefighters, they clearly understand the effects that come with being understaffed and overworked. They do understand the pressure and stress that comes with pushing yourself to the end and still being required to push even further. For the management, they are the ones in charge of running fire stations and the fire service. As much as they see what we are going through, they needto understand how difficult andstrenuous it truly gets. For the national legislators and policymakers, they are the ones in charge of coming up with regulations and implementing them. They need to come up with strict measures when it comes to the staffing and working shifts of fire stations. They need to hear how being understaffed takes a toll on those left behind. This will perhaps motivate them to take urgent action.
Steps to reach the target audience.
Participating in events that are similar to the one I want to hold will provide a great opportunity to benchmark. An example of such events is a local public education, training, and awareness program, conferences, seminars, and conventions.
Partnering– this is a good way of attracting the audience I am targeting. You get to share an audience with the companies and organizations you have partnered with. For this case, I would partner with the Department of Fire Servicesand the U.S Fire Administration (USFA) so that I can acquire the audience of regulators, legislators, and those in charge of managing and running the fire service.
Use of targeted advertisements– this approach would target and attract only those who are interested in being part of public education. This would also be a channel of attracting the partners discussed above.
During the education process, I would ensure that I focus on the needs and motives of my target audience, I would ensure that I talk with them and not at them, I would find the right channel and medium for communication, and last but not least, I would plan and talk about messages that engage them and grab their attention. I would focus on the following messages:
- The efficiency of performance– human error is one of the important factors when it comes to accidents in the fire service. To some extent, this depends on fatigue and the natural rhythmicity that determine many of the functions of the body. These combined with inadequate disrupted sleep leads to great inefficiency when it comes to working.
- Reduced productivity– long hours are often counterproductive.
- Sleep– long extended working hours or shifts have a deleterious effect on sleep. The quantity and quality of sleep greatly affect all other activities we engage in.
- Increased fatigue– being fatigued makes you sleepy, weary, concentrate less, and very irritable. These symptoms make you less productive and you may become overwhelmed and burnt out.
- Mental health/ stress– working for stretched periods and having a lot of workloads are psychosocial stressors. This may lead to depression and other mental problems.
- Neglected social life– when one is overworked and overwhelmed, they don’t maintain healthy lifestyles. This reduces the general quality of your life.
- Heart attack– the risk of heart attacks and other heart diseases is greatly increased in people who work for longer periods compared to those who do the normal hours.
I would use filtered mail systems, newspapers, and websites to reach out to the target audience. This is because these channels reach a large audience thus getting the right partners and audience will be easier. The websites to be used are those relevant to fire service, fire department, and firefighters. All these methods are all cost-effective and direct compared to TV and radio which will attract the attention of both relevant and irrelevant parties.
An example of the press release to be used is as below.
FLFR Station 2,
528 NW, 2nd Street,
PRESS RELEASE: FLFR Station 2 Holds a Public Education Session
28th July 2019
There will be a public education session at the Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Station 2 on the 15th of August 2019. We are calling out for interested partners to join us on this day. All partners are invited to get in touch with us.
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