The Safety Story project continues to grow through the Center for Medical Transport Research. In February 2011, eight storytellers gathered in Denver, Colorado to tell stories about safety – and survival! Five members of the air medical industry’s Survivor Network came to the group to tell their stories of crash survival – what helped in the midst of the event as well as the struggle back to a whole new life. Two other storytellers talk about their role in what they now see as near misses. Rod Crane, CEO and President of MedFlight of Ohio, talked about his own story as a program administrator and why safety is so important to him. All of these folks are fiercely committed to tell their stories in the hopes that it will prevent injury and loss in the emergency service community.
Daniel Weinshenker and Mary Ann McNair, both from the Center for Digital Storytelling, and Dr. Cathy Jaynes, Director of the Center for Medical Transport Research, facilitated the session. The Air Medical Operators Association and MedEvac Foundation International supported the workshop financially.
The process of creating these digital stories takes a full three days. The first day focuses on learning about the critical elements of storytelling - looking at examples and discussing how an author makes a story really work. The toughest but most rewarding part of this first day is the story circle. Everyone shares their story and gets feedback from the group. These are deep stories with great meaning - some shared for the first time ever. They were from the heart - and the group honored that. It was a deeply moving experience to watch these storytellers share with other flight folks in the context of moving our industry closer to safe practices. This is where the story is fine-tuned, read over and over again to the facilitators, reduced to the 250 words. Several of the storytellers worked late into the night to get their piece just right.
For the next two days - with consultation from the facilitators - each storyteller worked with an apple computer using Final Cutâ software to create a "movie" of their story. They used still images, video clips, sounds, and music to accompany their own voice reading the prepared story. By late afternoon on the third day, stories were complete. We popped popcorn and the storytellers introduced their story's screening.
The storytelling project is gathering momentum. These safety stories are a real gift to our industry, and to many across many disciplines who really want to get serious about safety. Krista Haugen, co-founder of the Survivors Network describes the opportunity to hear stories about crisis averted or survived as a “get out of jail free card.” We can learn a great deal from those who have taken the time to carefully tell a story that is heartfelt and a milestone in their own career.
The stories are freely available on the Center’s website (www.tcmtr.org/stories). You’ll also find discussion questions that can facilitate learning about safety. Tom Allenstein, Chuck Ansley, Rod Crane, Colin Henry, and Howard Werman worked to develop the questions for use in their own safety education program at MedFlight of Ohio. There is much to reflect on and think about in each of the stories. They are a great tool for teaching about crew resource management and the human factors that create safety. Take advantage of the willingness of these storytellers to tell us about their experience. Or, better yet, come tell us your story! Contact us at The Center for Medical Transport Research for information on our next workshop.
Cathy Jaynes, RN,
Director, The Center for Medical Transport Research
Touching Base ™ Publication Spring 2011