I Can’t Stand the Rain!

I’ve woken up in another city and I can’t stand the rain on my window, beating down outside the fairly standard chain hotel room I find myself in. It’s a bleak look out into the outside world on a wet dreary midweek morning. Where am I? Why am I here? The eternal questions almost everyone asks themselves at some point or other in life. However, this time I wasn’t trying to figure out the meaning of life or the answer to everything, which is of course 42 (only Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fans will get this).

No no no no no…..none of the above. At last my mind clicked into gear, of course it’s the National Operational Guidance (NOG) roadshow! Ten cities across the UK in six weeks, its little wonder I’m having a few problems orientating myself. London, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Cambridge have all seen the mighty NOG machine roll into town. Raising awareness of the programme, engaging with FRS staff around the UK and listening to various views and opinions was the order of the day. Which day and which town didn’t seem to matter, it was more rich data to feed into the NOG cog of ongoing learning and development.

To some, reading pages from a website with whizzy charts and fancy diagrams seemed somewhat forbidding, no matter how well written. Face to face chats, discussions, presentations and the soliciting of views from up to 20 people in each workshop twice a day suddenly made things clearer.

Take our framework, for instance – a chart with squares, lines and words. By the time Nick or Doc (Programme Director and Programme Manager) had finished explaining it, along with debugging the colour code, we could see the light bulbs of understanding illuminating faces within the room. It reminded me of the ‘Ah Bisto’, TV ad campaign of a past era. You could almost hear people think “Ah that’s what it means”. One person commented, “It all makes sense now!”

Our presentation summarised the programme’s current position, and what lies ahead up to March 2018. It included a snappy little diagram on how the guidance fits around an incident scenario. This really helped people to see how different pieces of guidance could be threaded together to benefit those on the incident ground.

We also included a Blue Peter-esque exercise of sticking Post-it notes to boards, which to be fair most endured rather than enjoyed. However, the information garnered gave the programme valuable data regarding where services are in terms of adopting the guidance, operational learning, etc., and using our ‘Cool Wall of Communication’ they stated preferred communication tools.

Finishing off with a round robin plenary which proved to be a real hit with most people, attendees remarked that more of this type of thing was needed. The NOG programme team certainly benefitted from the somewhat punishing schedule we put ourselves through. Waking up in one city, falling asleep in another, and rising in a third one in a matter of days may have been onerous at times, but the opportunity to gain insights from staff up and down the country was priceless.

Oh yes, I remember where I was now, Newcastle! Suddenly I looked out again at the wintry spring weather front facing me and realised that unlike Tina Turner, I CAN stand the rain on my window!

Paul Bruce
NOG Programme Team

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