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What it means to be Emotionally Intelligent (EQ)

Posted by Peter Messenger
Peter Messenger
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on Sunday, 22 January 2012
in Industry Insights

Emotional intelligence has been around for a long time – but with many different theories of what it is, not a lot of people have a thorough understanding of what it actually alludes to.

The reality is, emotional intelligence can be the difference between a great day at work or an extremely stressed one – and when applied to the fire ground it could even be the difference between life and death and/or serious injury.

Emotional intelligence is two-fold:

Firstly, it's being aware of your own emotions and how they effect your day-to-day working environment and;

Secondly, being conscious of and understanding other people’s emotional states.

The ‘intelligence’ factor relates to being efficient at managing both your role and the role of others on an emotional level. Knowing that the smallest decision or action can have extremely detrimental results on others is imperative. Sometimes called the butterfly effect.

It is becoming the new buzzword in senior management – and not in a flash-of-the-pan way – emotional intelligence or EQ has an incredible amount of weight behind it due to the consequences of firemen and emergency response teams members not being able to manage, handle and even understand it properly.

So important is EQ in the emergency response game that organisations now assess emotional intelligence in current recruitment campaigns, ensuring they have proficient emotional abilities before they progress through to interview stage.

Emotions play a large roll in a working environment. Add emotions to an emergency scenario that already involves quick thinking, trust and an ever changing dangerous environment and the mental state of workers can go throw the roof. A competent supervisor will have a solid understanding of this and will act accordingly to assist in the emotional side of the emergency scenario to get the desired outcome.

Having set procedures and operation guidelines will make these situations more workable, for example the use of a simple acronym. Fire fighters can be having the worst day personally or just lost a loved one, yet in the heat of the moment an acronym is easily resorted to and can provide structure to the essential steps of a situation.

The fire response industry has always looked at incident management very closely in all areas, with the inclusion of a hose lay solution, it manages the straight forward, day-to-day operational tasks that, if overlooked can in fact become the main risk or single point of failure of operations.

When we designed the QLFA Packs we kept EQ in mind.

We factored in the importance of speed, reliability and crew EQ (where the firies heads are at).

Knowing the flexible deployment principles of the packs and that they will perform the same way every time (i.e – the deployment of the hose into a coil is the same in all environments) we included clear colour differentation that every person can follow without question.

Regardless of the emotional state and experience of the arriving fire fighters they know:

"I can stretch the blue pack as quickly as I walk over/under fences or up/down a ladder and it can connect to the red pack, which has all the gear we need and will provide us with a whole length of hose coiled at our feet that we can easily advance into the hostile environment".

For the incident controller who has many decisions to make, all that is required are clear instructions and a standard of hose lay that's easy to follow, which allows for ease of operation regardless of experience.

The inclusion of a hose lay strategy allows crews to focus on the bigger picture knowing that all the loose ends are taken care of rapidly and reliably without question.

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