Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dress for Public Service Success

Years ago I was a EMT-I for a local Emergency Medical Service company. Seeing I held a full time job elsewhere my "runs" consisted of from 1600-0600 hours mainly....with the bulk seemingly in the "0-dark thirty" time frame which entailed getting out of bed and throwing on whatever was handy. This was before the era of actually having full time paid techs on site 24/7. Well I tried to at least throw on my EMS t-shirt and wear my coat the EMS provider gave me to ID myself when arriving on scene. I had a couple of partners that would show up, well, dressed with what ever was on the floor attire. The service owner emphasized the fact that professionalism was also looking the part because the patients felt better when someone at least looking like they know what they were doing showed up at 0245 hours after driving 35 minutes code 3 for their intestinal cramps. After a time we were provided with full uniforms and it did in fact make a difference when we arrived on scene as to how we were accepted by bot the patients, their families and at accidents and crime scenes the governing authorities on site. I saw this article and agree 100% with the author.
 At the very minimum dress neatly!
When responding look like a responder, not a victim!
Image result for emcomm radio operator attire
Visiting this year's ARRL New England Convention in Boxboro, Massachusetts, I was delightfully surprised at the level of care most attendees, and in particular exhibitors, speakers and volunteers, exercised in their choice of attire. Snazzy uniform shirts worn by vendors were in abundance. Business attire infused the exhibit hall. It was as if I were attending a professional conference.
There I met new ARRL CEO, Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, whose sharp business attire transmitted an easy-on-the-eyes message, one that clearly respected the first impressions of his constituents. Among the subjects discussed was my contention that our community must take better care to present ourselves as organized professionals when serving in a public service role, most especially in how we look.
As a leader of public service teams, and an advocate for better leadership, innovation and national unity in our public service communications role, I make sure every volunteer has the opportunity and support that encourages their personal success. Not only are my teams well trained and fully integrated into the organization or agency we serve, they also look (and smell) good. That's because expectations for attire are part of the pre-event preparations. I urge volunteers at some events to be "smartly dressed with a clean white shirt and blue uniform pants, or equivalent." A volunteer T-shirt is sometimes needed as an added bit of identification and to unify us as members of a larger team, so I request that we "wear the supplied volunteer T-shirt in combination with uniform or EMT cargo pants to present a professional appearance." I also caution that we must not be confused with public safety or law enforcement personnel. "Professional" does not mean that we have license to impersonate, however innocent our first intention!
I have first-hand experience to suggest that those who present themselves professionally are invited back for the next event service opportunity. While some of us grumble about how disorganized the organization we're serving may be -- how little they understand about the value of our "superior" communications service -- we are ultimately responsible for an invitation back to a repeat performance. So what happens when we're not? Some of us lean upon that tired "when all else fails" excuse: "When all else fails you'll call upon us, and you won't care how we look." Weak. Irrelevant. Arrogant. Please throw those rags in the laundry (or incinerator) and come back civilized. This is not a mud wrestling match.
At each public service event I've had the privilege and fun to work as a communications volunteer, the event organizers, public safety, vendors, and participants arrive dressed for the occasion. We are not exempt. If your leadership fails to set a minimum standard, that doesn't mean you can't arrive on time and ready to go with a professional, smart, confidence-inspiring appearance. You'll look good, feel great, and be amazed how receptive your team mates, the organizers, participants and the public will be when you dress for public service success. -- Mark Richards, K1MGY, Littleton, Massachusetts [Richards is a member of the Boston Athletic Association's Boston Marathon Communications Committee, with an extensive history of leadership in numerous public event communications efforts. Richards is a frequent contributor to the ARRL ARES E-Letter. -- ed.]

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