Leadership in Emergency Services – Brooke Faulkner

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The world of emergency services is changing rapidly. The demand for nurses nationwide is leading to high job turnover due to nurses being overworked and spread too thin. Additionally, the actions and decisions of law enforcement officers are becoming more scrutinized than ever as a result of misconduct and heavy firearm use. The work environment in these professions is demanding, stressful, and dynamic. Effective and well-received leadership is needed to support those in these high-risk, high-pressure positions. Next time you find yourself calling the shots in a critical incident, keep these pointers in mind.


Often in emergency services, we measure one another on experience and competencies. Being proficient in your job, both technically and as a leader, requires taking the time to study policy and procedure. Often emergency situations require action when you are up against the clock to make sound and timely decisions. Your employees are counting on you to lead them through intense situations, and how you react will initiate how they respond. Your training will empower you to make the best decisions for you and your team.

Communication is another key trait to emergency leadership. An employee cannot effectively follow you unless they know what is required of them. Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished. Lastly, as a leader in emergency services, it is your duty to successfully set up your subordinates for the future to be the leaders that you would wish to find within your own team.


A leader cannot lead and followers cannot follow unless they are committed to both the leader and the plan. One of the best ways to convince your team to be loyal to you and your plan is to treat them with genuine respect. Empower them, and they in turn, will empower you. Get to know your employees on a personal level to enable you to look out for their best interests. Transparency about decision making, plans for the future and making sure to keep your subordinates informed will create a closer relationship within your team of workers. Make sure to build up the team by helping them to maintain a positive work life balance, being cognizant of their mental health, and helping them develop their careers. Lastly, be realistic in your expectations and employ your subordinates in accordance to their capabilities so they will be successful in the tasks given to them.


Both nurses and law enforcement feel comfort in following leaders of high moral character. Take some time to do a self-evaluation and pursue different avenues that may help you to seek improvement. Accountability creates trust throughout the team — seek and accept responsibility for your actions. All of this falls back on the premise that it is you that sets the example, good or bad, for better or worse. Commit to making sure it is for the better.

When waist-deep in an ever-evolving emergency environment, it can be difficult to remember every piece of training taught to you. Stick to the basics, create muscle memory, and trust your initial training. When leading your team, remember the three-tier system of “duty, respect, and integrity,” and let the rest organically fall into place.

Brooke Faulkner is a full-time writer and full-time mom of two.

She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader, and dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons creativity enough that she’ll get more than groans and eye rolls in response. To read more of her work, follow her on Twitter @faulknercreek