Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Well I haven’t posted for a few days now.
I have been coming home from work tired.
We have had some very stressful incidents over the past week or so.
Attempting to deal with such issues and keep everyone else safe and well at the same time takes it out of you.

To keep the bureaucratic arm of our organisation happy, we have at work what are called “critical incident” forms.
These forms are to record instances where there was either some form of illness, harm or the risk of harm in the workplace. In theory they are to help us as a team and our OH&S staff at head office to improve workplace safety.

As you know I work in an industry (services to homeless people) where there are probably more than the fair share of incidents. So on average, as a manager, I probably fill in about one of these a month. Since Tuesday last week, I have filled out no less than six of these forms, and strictly it should have been seven.

Here is my list of misadventures and close shaves for the week.

A fight where one client (I’ll call him Hacker, he is actually known by a nickname) attacks another. The victim turns on the attacker and begins to beat him up. Greg and I intervene and manage to talk them down. Result Hacker and the other guy banned from our premises for three months.

A psychotic episode affecting one of our female clients. One of our staff (I’ll call her Jane) is threatened. Result Woman escorted off premises, psych crisis team called (they don’t arrive until after she has left the area, surprise, surprise.)

A psychotic episode (probably drug induced) affects one of our male clients. He threatens a guest psychologist (I’ll call her S). Greg and I intervene. We get S into a safe room. Greg and I continue to try to talk him down. The guy continues to escalate. I instruct Greg to dial 000 (our equivalent of 911 or 999) The Police take fifteen minutes to arrive (their station is maybe 100 metres away). By then the guy has calmed somewhat. The police elect to not arrest him but just move him on.
S has been a psychologist in the city for over ten years. Yet this is the first time anything like this has happened to her. Greg and I spend a long time trying to reassure her. We then walk her to her car (our shift was over by then). I then spend a long time on the phone to her boss trying to ensure she gets a proper debrief.

Hacker (see point 1 above) turns up after a couple of days. He waltzes in as if nothing has happened. I remind him of his ban. He becomes verbally abusive and threatening. Greg hovers nearby in case thing go wrong, but in the end Hacker listens to me and leaves.

Two of our guys argue. Neither wants to back down. It looks like another fight is in the offing. Greg and I intervene. Between us we manage to talk them down. Both are asked to leave for the day, neither is banned.

Finally, yesterday at breakfast one of our volunteers (I’ll call him Larry) suddenly complains of Chest and abdominal pain. Larry is a guy in his mid sixties and his health is not good. I dial 000 for an ambulance and stay with him until they arrive. Larry is taken away by paramedics.
We have to reassure the guys that Larry will be OK (while being worried for him ourselves).
Fortunately Larry was not too bad as it turned out. He spent the day in hospital while tests were run. The diagnosis – kidney stones.

So as you can see I have had a busy week. These sorts of incidents cause a lot of stress for all involved.
No wonder I am tired.

Now to finish on a positive note or two.

Veiled in Shadows is proceeding, albeit a little slowly at the moment. I am almost ready to upload my files to the printer.
However, I have found a few last minute formatting errors so I am checking the whole thing once more.
I have also just received a National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry.
This thing is getting closer and closer.

Finally my youngest’s school has asked if I can be at an open day to meet with prospective parents to answer questions about how we as parents (and our daughter) find the school.
I am only too happy to help out. Lu came to the school last year (in what we call year 10). This is the first school that has come close to meeting her needs and the first school she has ever been happy in. They are clearly doing things better than any school she has ever been to before.

Hmm. I think I have enough for another whole post there.

Enough for now.
I’ll finish with a piccie of some of the high country north of Melbourne. Unlike the Upper Yarra Valley which has featured a lot on my blog this piccie taken a couple of weeks ago shows much more typical Aussie summer colours.


hmsgofita said...

Wow Al,
That is quite the busy week! I hope things have settled down a bit for this one. Love the piccie of Melbourne! Here's to a better week for both of us!

Carol Burnside said...

Wow. I hope you exercise or relax with music - something to de-stress when you get home. That's a lot to deal with in one week.

Love the picture. The trees, dry appearance and clear sky remind me of the Texas hill country (mid-south area between Austin and San-Antonio).

Elspeth Antonelli said...

What a high-stress place to work! You have my endless admiration. It's no wonder your writing has taken a back seat this past week. Take time for yourself; sit in the sun and have a drink.

Al said...

Hi Heather,
Today was nice and quiet. A welcome relief.

Hi Carol,
Welcome to my blog! Writing, that is my de-stress tool. You have to develop a way to leave work at work in this industry or you just burn out.

Hi Elspeth,
Sound like great advice. I might just have to follow your suggestion!

Deb@RGRamblings said...

That's a heavy load!! Must be something in the air down there. My brother works for the Red Cross in NZ, he called the other day and said he's had a lot of weird incidents over the last couple of weeks. Here's to stressfree days and more time for writing!

Love your landscape photo - great blog!

DJ Kirkby said...

Sounds like a hell of a week. I liked hearing the stories though as it helped me understand more about your week. I'd like to read a post about your daughter's school too.

Al said...

Hey DJ,
It certainly was a trying week. I was happy to share. Thanks for the idea about posting on Lu's school, I'll think about an angle.

Tiana Lei said...

Ugh. Work can be so stressful sometimes. You've certainly had a rough week. Good thing the weekend is upon us!

Rebecca said...

busy wekk, hope this award will amke you feel better

Al said...

Hi Tiana,
Sometimes it is just sooo hard. I agree roll on the weekend!

Hi Rebecca,
Thank you it most definitely has.

Lisa said...

You have had a stressful week! Hope things quiet down some. Larry, dude, I feel your pain--kidney stones are awful!

Al said...

Hi Lisa,
This week has so far been much better, phew!
I've never had kidney stones but everyone I know who has has had a miserable time.