Harassment isn't fair
People are the cornerstone of your organization — for good or for bad
By Art Hsieh
It will be interesting to see what comes out of the case of a paramedic allegedly hounded out of his fire department by derogatory comments. Regardless of where the fault lies, there are lessons to be learned for EMS organizations.
First, it doesn't matter whether you are a volunteer, career or combination department — harassment allegations are serious issues and need to be investigated seriously. Many conflicts are a result of miscommunication or misperception that can be resolved with fact-finding and clarification. Blowing it off will certainly make things worse, not better.
Second, preventing such occurrences is much better than having to react to them. Many of us groan when we have to attend such training sessions, but they are mandatory for a reason — harassment happens, probably a lot more than we care to admit. What's good-natured fun for some is painful and abhorrent to others. To be more aware is to be better prepared.
Last, there can be long-term consequences for the organization, as is the case here. Losing funding is an indication of the lack of confidence community leaders have in the department's managerial abilities. While it's nice to have a great-looking building and shiny apparatus, the essential component of any organization is its people. That's where the focus needs to be.