by Sorrell Fowler
Fire station crews
are usually the first one on the scene when a call for help is made.
And station six in Sacramento's Oak Park is one of the busiest in the
nation, receiving nearly 14,000 calls a year. And it's in the heart
of what Time magazine has named the most diverse city in America - a
prime example of a true melting pot for the Central Valley. It's no
wonder the calls often have crews working with a diverse population.
So the ability to
understand and interact with diverse groups is vital. And for that,
the Sacramento City Fire Department enlisted the help of local diversity
specialist Dr. Kevin Christophe, president and founder of Sacramento-based
Progress counseling. He says better customer service is crucial for
an agency like the fire department, whose business is saving lives.
Kevin uses role-playing
and storytelling to help firefighters see situations through the eyes
of the people they serve. According to the Deputy Chief, feedback on
the training has been positive overall, but some crew members had to
be convinced in the beginning.
Kevin is aware of
the bad rap diversity training has received in the past
according to Kevin, the risks associated with not having training can
be much worse.
Like the Fire Department,
CARES is an organization where knowing how to reach our diverse community
can be a matter of life or death. Housed in this non-descript building
in downtown Sacramento is a healthcare clinic, a pharmacy, and social
services for people suffering from HIV and AIDS. Kevin's diversity training
has helped them reach out to a diverse array of groups and cultures.
And as new cultures
continue to make Sacramento their home, research on how to reach those
groups is underway and that will make the community a safer place. Better
communication makes saving lives a little easier, and with communities
across the Valley becoming more and more integrated, the demand for
diversity training is sure to rise.