Engaging With the New Generation of First Responders
We live in an era of digitization. Connecting with someone halfway around the world is as simple as opening an app. Remote work has overtaken multiple industries, and ease of use is now every bit as important as security.
There is now an entire generation that has never experienced life without smartphones and the Internet. An entire generation raised on social media and online communication. An entire generation that grew up in a world defined by convenience, connectivity, and collaboration.
That generation is now entering the workforce — including fire & rescue. And they carry with them the unconscious expectation that they will encounter familiar communication tools. That colleagues and leadership will engage with them as they're used to.
The problem is that many fire departments communicate today almost exactly as they did twenty or thirty years ago. Through phone trees, mass emails, and the fire hall bulletin board. Systems which, in addition to being highly inefficient, largely impersonal, and complicated/cumbersome, are more than showing their age.
How do you suppose the new generation of firefighters will react upon discovering that these channels are still widely used in their fire department?
Not well, to say the least. Remember that this is a generation entirely used to digital communication. A generation used to convenient messaging applications and social media.
At best, they may view old communication processes as quaint and archaic. At worst, they'll find them jarring, frustrating, and confusing. They will, likelier than not, do everything in their power to avoid engaging with these mediums, assuming they even bother sticking around at all.
And that, in turn, is likely to contribute significantly to the communication issues your department is already struggling with, including:
Crossed wires. If a fire hall doesn't provide its volunteers with an effective set of internal communication tools, they'll seek those tools out on their own. That means chaos, miscommunication, and confusion at best.
Message lost. Speaking of miscommunication, you have little to no guarantee that younger firefighters will even bother listening to department-wide messages.
More silos. Because each team is likely to seek out its own set of tools, this ultimately results in even greater divisions from both a cultural and communication perspective.
No focus, no satisfaction. Low engagement is a bad thing in any industry. In most fields, however, it simply costs money and productivity. In fire & rescue, a lack of focus and satisfaction can create actual safety issues.
If fire departments are going to properly engage with new personnel, they need to modernize their communication systems. They need to provide both volunteers and career firefighters with real-time two-way messaging. More importantly, firefighters need the ability to reach out immediately to both colleagues and leadership.
They need, in other words, a platform like Unio. Inspired by fire & rescue, Unio is a seamless, modern communication platform that keeps everyone within your department securely connected. Powered by world-class BlackBerry encryption technology, it empowers modern firefighters in several ways:
Better visibility. At a glance, your firefighters can determine not only who their colleagues are, but can also quickly connect with leadership should they have questions, comments, or concerns.
Modern functionality. Unio is built with ease of use in mind, designed to be immediately intuitive with rich voice, video, group chat, and file-sharing.
Improved engagement. Unio's integrated newsfeed not only allows leadership to consolidate all announcements and messaging in one place but also improves engagement by allowing staff to like, comment on, and share updates.
We live in a digital world. If fire departments are to keep firefighters connected and engaged, they need to keep with the times. They need to modernize their communication tools — to bring their infrastructure into 2021 rather than leaving it mired in the 80s.