Most organizations use some sort of measurement to test the effectiveness of their teams. Such metrics give managers the opportunity to figure out what pieces of their team and processes need tightening to make it more effective in the long run.
In the emergency services field, response times for police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) serve as a window into the reliability of the 911 system. The metric can serve as a means for measuring the effectiveness of a team, the communication a team has, and can serve as a positive means of public relations for the local municipality.
Response times can serve as an excellent metric for local governments to use, although at least one article argues the contrary.
It is no surprise that a team that works well together will be particularly effective in numerous instances. The University of Victoria published a model that demonstrates several aspects that a team needs in order to be effective.
The model includes points such as “clear roles and responsibilities, clear procedures, positive relationships and strong leadership” as the focal points for what makes a team effective. A good emergency team will have all of these aspects in mind and a good response time may prove to be an adequate indicator of this.
Most teams require good communication and and good interpersonal skills for a team to be effective. For any 911 team to respond, good communication needs to come from the dispatcher, but it also needs to extend to those working the emergency.
The management literature discusses communication to a large extent, and certainly in the business world, communication is a big factor in the success of a team. One article details “14 ways to help team members communicate,” which can easily be applied to emergency management and emergency response.
Ultimately, good communication skills need to be present, but technology is also a factor in this, too, for how it brings resources together during a 911 call. Technology has increased tremendously in the last few years, providing substantial support to those responding to 911 calls. An article details just how technology has changed in recent years as it relates to EMS.
In many areas throughout the country, good communication is lacking because many localities simply cannot afford the new technology to tighten communication. Thus, response times can be a window into the way a team communicates and whether they’re adequately receiving the correct information to respond quickly to an emergency situation.
Strengthening Public Relations
Good response times are also excellent for maintaining good public relations with a local government and its residents.
For most people, emergencies rarely happen, but when they do, everything tends to move in slow motion for the individual experiencing the emergency. A fast response time allows for the public to develop a good image of emergency responders – something that will ultimately allow for them to support a strong budget for 911 responders, too. Good response times also reflect on the local government and emergency management showing that an effective team has come together for a fast response time to happen.
Ultimately, response times are an excellent metric for evaluating a team’s effectiveness. When used appropriately, response times will provide a lot of great feedback for measuring the performance of an emergency team. Further, it can also work to strengthen the public relations of an agency or local government showcasing just how well the 911 system works.