Americans tend to have a dreamy perception of the people they see in the roles of heroes. They see individuals in public safety roles, (both emergency managers and those in public safety roles such as police, fire and emergency medical services), as having marvelous nerves of steel. Many of these individuals are tremendously strong-minded and strong-willed, and look to fill the role of a rescuer or protector in the roles that they choose.
For those new to public safety or responding to emergencies in general, they can be nervous wanting to make a good impression on those they will be working with--particularly those in higher level positions. Further, the thought of responding to an actual emergency can be nerve racking, as they lose track of the notion that they’re responding to someone else’s emergency and not their own.
However, nervousness is a serious public relations concern. If a patient or their family thinks that someone responding is nervous, they’ll immediately be concerned about their own patient care. If the public perceives an emergency manager as nervous, they may immediately become concerned about the overall management of a major crisis.
Thus, it becomes incredibly important for the management of any emergency agency to make sure that they do not have personnel who are nervous on scene.
Nervousness Makes Everyone Nervous
When someone is nervous, they portray themselves as not being confident in what they’re doing. As such, their nervousness makes everyone around them nervous.
The patients and their families are suddenly concerned about everything this person will be doing, and the individual’s crew becomes increasingly concerned about potential mistakes they may be making. Further, if an emergency manager comes across as nervous, citizens and those around the manager can become gravely concerned about their skill set.
Nervousness, ultimately, makes everyone nervous.
Preparedness and Calming Nerves
It goes without saying that someone in an authoritarian position needs to work with an individual to calm their nerves. This is, of course, easier said than done. It can be very difficult to completely calm someone’s nerves, especially when they’re new to the emergency realm.
The Help Guide lists out symptoms of stress, and there are many other resources for supervisors to review. It needs to be within a supervisor's role to help nervous employees calm their nerves, otherwise this can have a serious impact on effectively managing the team and the incident.
Calming someone’s nerves in the long term has a serious impact on the preparedness of the team.
It can be difficult to put someone who is terribly nervous into an emergency situation given the serious nature of emergencies. Thus, it becomes increasingly important to continually train the individual. In doing so, they may find that they’re able to focus better under pressure and are confident in their skill set.
The more training there is, (even through mock scenarios), the more an individual may feel confident in what they do. They should however, also contemplate in the midst of these scenarios, whether or not working in the emergency field is right for them.
Nervousness tends to make everyone nervous, so it's important for supervisors to work with their staff to make sure they feel confident and can handle an emergency when it comes up.