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Coffee break Bulletin

Improving responder performance using job aids

Posted: Feb. 5, 2019

Tips for how to use job aids to improve responder performance, safety and emergency operations.

Job aids are effective tools that can help to improve responder performance, safety and emergency operations with just-in-time training.

Consider the following scenario:

Your review of department performance after a recent home fire found that personnel had difficulty with starting a smoke fan and a generator. You discuss this with the firefighters involved and find that they were trained in how to start small engine equipment, but, in the heat of the emergency, they flooded the engines and were not sure how to clear the excess fuel.

Performance solution: Create a job aid!

A job aid is an effective way to provide just-in-time training to your personnel, improve performance, and reduce costs and mistakes. Job aids can take many forms, such as Quick Response codes that link to videos, worksheets that assist firefighters when conducting home safety visits and smoke alarm installations, or checklists placed on compartment doors that show how to start power equipment.

Job aids work best when:

  • Tasks are clear and focused.
  • You are trying to reduce errors.
  • Recordkeeping is critical.
  • You need to make sure that critical tasks are accomplished.

Once you have decided to use a job aid to improve performance, you will need to look at the type of work and who will use it to determine the best job aid for the task. Keep in mind that a job aid is a tool that provides just the right amount of task guidance and support, at the moment of need, and as part of work.

Content tips for job aids

  • Break down complex tasks to simple skills.
  • Define the order of tasks to complete the job.
  • Describe each step in plain language.
  • Include diagrams or photos whenever possible. Video links are also helpful.

Keep it simple to ensure that personnel with only a basic understanding of the assignment are able to accomplish the task.

Action step to improve responder performance

To learn more about how to create and use job aids to improve responder performance, apply for the National Fire Academy course Fire and Emergency Services Training Program Management (R0445).

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