Week 3: “Pencil” and “Whip” Shouldn’t Describe Your Department’s Training
Finally, John brought up the issue of training documentation. Both John and I have experienced the overwhelming pressure within agencies to not only perform the mission but also do all the required training. Sometimes this leads people to “pencil-whip” their training paperwork in order to save time, money, and headaches. However, the opposite is most likely the case.
Just as important as having quality training though, the training needs to be documented properly so that there is some proof of what training was done if lawsuits are filed. John described a case where a firefighter’s family brought suit against the city for not enforcing the fire department’s fitness standards, and won. As sad as this situation is, hard lines have to be drawn sometimes and turning a blind eye to a situation or letting a standard lax may actually cause more harm than good.
John describes that the best solution is not really a new one. Training needs to be meaningful and documented. The first place lawyers are going to go if something happens is the department’s training records. If the department is consistently maintaining all applicable training hours and the department’s training manager documented this training in each employee’s training record, there are far fewer issues. However, frequently the case is that even if the training was done, it wasn’t documented or was a mere “check-the-box” training event that was done half-heartedly. Though it is hard work, maintaining meaningful and documented training will not only yield benefits in court, but will also ensure your department can serve the public they are charged with protecting to the best of their abilities.
Impact on Emergency Management
Frequently Emergency Managers are responsible for planning exercises varying in different scopes and sizes. These are essential training events designed to test an agency’s ability to implement a plan, and the ability of the plan to be implemented. If exercises are done and not documented or documented but haphazardly done, it is essentially like they were never done if the agency is called into court over an issue post-disaster. However, if exercises are meaningfully planned, executed, and documented, there are far fewer issues when the lawyers come knocking.