Emergency Response: Creativity and Training
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Every time emergency responders respond to an incident, they enter an ambiguous situation that is an ill-defined problem space. As the responders engage with the incident, they discover, piece by piece, the unique interlocking problems and act quickly to put form and structure onto the potential solution. In order to quickly, effectively, and safely resolve an incident, emergency responders must have depth and breadth of knowledge across responder disciplines and domains. This knowledge is acquired through both formal training courses and informal training in the station house. The ability to quickly assess a situation, accurately identify the elements as they emerge and their significance, then decide on a course of action combining a variety of domains and skill sets speaks to the creative nature of emergency responders. This study uses naturalistic inquiry to explore what it is like to be an emergency responder, describe how creativity manifests itself in a field environment, and discuss what emergency responders want in their training. This study found that being an emergency responder is emotional, exciting, stressful, challenging, full of the unexpected, and rewarding. During an incident, emergency responders are dealing with the complex interactions of various emotions while resolving difficult and often sad situations. Being an emergency responder is synonymous with being a good problem solver; they are also highly emotionally resilient. The process of creativity within an emergency response environment is seen through preparation that is, training. The consistent review and development of skills makes the skills automatic. Responders also cross-train and, often, an individual responder will have expertise in multiple areas. The improvisational skills of emergency responders to events which are often emergent and creative in their own right, demonstrate a depth of creative force through the handling of complex, high-risk situations with persistence, endurance, and determination. Finally, this study found that emergency responders are passionate about their training. They know that what they learn and practice during training evolutions forms the foundation of their professionalism, provides opportunities to learn new skills or hone already established skills, reinforces safety considerations, and will save their lives and the lives of other people.