We recently held our spring workshop in Sisters and it was another great training opportunity! What a wonderful job our members are doing hosting these events! Our organization has such a vast skill base to draw from and I love to see our member’s creativity and enthusiasm in action.
This year’s workshop started off with a session on the Office Administrators role in Chief/Board conflict presented by Sisters-Camp Sherman Chief, Tay Robertson. Chief covered many of the differences that can bring about conflict such as board member dynamics, family members on the department, dishonesty and fraud, generational differences, and different styles, all of which can cause staff conflict, distrust amongst staff, loss of public confidence, etc. He advised personnel to remain confidential, neutral and professional at all times and to treat everyone with respect. Often these situations bring on personal stress, so remember to get help if you need it (ex: journaling, Employee Assistance Programs).
Jeff Johnson, CEO of Western Fire Chiefs Association, presented on Reasons Chief’s get fired and how the Office Administrator can help or hurt the situation. He covered three areas; failure to manage money, failure to manage relationships, and forgetting who their boss is. As Office Administrators and assistants to our Chiefs we need to remain helpful, polite, positive, and respectful to everyone. We need to be confidential, be the voice of reason, and be completely trustworthy.
With all the social media issues emerging on every front, the session by Paul LeSage on Social Media Gone Wrong was timely and a real eye-opener. Some of the points to remember:
1. Rules are the weakest tool we have to keep people in line; values, expectations, and incentives are often more effective than the rules
2. Once you send it (one time) it’s out of your control!
3. “Viral” spread (defined as > 1M hits) has taken as little as 92 minutes
4. Everything digital can be manipulated
5. Have as comprehensive a policy as possible, set expectations and actions to be taken-review often, things change rapidly
6. Some employers are demanding user names and passwords to job seekers' Facebook accounts as part of a background check
7. Train members how “dangerous” social media can be
8. Protect your district’s information: check for and buy your stuff from EBay, embed graphics, use secure PDFs, trademark your logo, don’t give out patches
Of course there are so many positive benefits and uses of social media for fire districts; it’s just wise to be very careful.
Travel planning secrets were shared by Jeff Johnson Thursday afternoon. We learned definitions for carry-on, gate checks, direct airlines, hub airlines, regional jets, elite status, and premier upgrades. We understand the value of picking an airline (and hotel) and staying with them, looking at seat maps (never book a ticket without choosing your seat), advantages of club rooms and watching your flight status, never carrying all your information in same place (ex: some in wallet, some in bag), carrying spare paper copies, wearing jackets with zip pockets, printing out boarding passes a day ahead. It's best to go directly to airline websites to purchase tickets – not to use travel agents (not even online agents like Travelocity or Expedia for airline tickets - although they are great for booking hotels).
Friday’s session on Audits and Budget Law presented by Richard Donaca, CPA, was timely and informative. Mr. Donaca explained many of the Federal laws for auditors, defined what an audit is and what it consists of, and new reporting issues (GASB 54). He reviewed the budget process, minimum requirements, and changes in forms and reporting.
The workshop culminated with a rescue demonstration by Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire personnel. The demonstration consisted of a scenario of a car accident with entrapment using Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District student Luke Boskovich as a patient. Crews responded to the scene and removed the patient from the driver’s seat where he is pinned by the steering wheel and dash. They used the ambulance crew to stabilize, package and treat the patient. The evolution consisted of stabilizing the vehicle and then removing the driver’s door and front fender to move the dash up off the patient and get him out. The crew then placed the patient on a backboard, did a patient assessment, started an IV and moved him to the ambulance for transport. Fire personnel did a great job explaining their procedures and giving us a better understanding of the life-saving work they do in the field.
Over the years I’ve found every workshop and conference to be valuable in helping the Office Administrator grow personally and professionally. You really can’t afford to miss these training events in order to stay current in your skills and knowledge. Thank you to this year’s committee: Chair Julie Spor, Sisters-Camp Sherman FD; Paula Landrus, Crook County FD; Jamie Vohs, Black Butte FD; Amy Anderson-Rice, Roseburg FD; and Kim Probst & Stacy Brainard, Klamath County FD – Well Done!!
~ Rhonda Grant