Accountability – Not Found On A Checklist

I’ve been involved in lots of agencies, both fire and EMS. I’ve been with subscription based fire services, all volunteer fire services, combination and career fire services. I’ve worked for fire based EMS and private EMS.

I’ve worked under many people. Some of whom were very good managers with no leadership skills and some of whom were very good leaders with no management skills. Very rarely will I find people that do both well. I strive to do both well.

No matter where I go, however, there is always someone who believes that accountability comes with a checklist, so there are many checklists for everything. I once joked that I have a log book that makes sure that I finished a checklist, and a checklist that accounts for those two items, followed by another logbook. The amount of paperwork I have to complete just to ensure I completed one task is stifling. A checklist doesn’t equal accountability.

It’s hard to hold someone to account for an action or inaction when the paperwork is pencil whipped every morning, so the idea of accountability becomes as useless as the checklist itself. Could it be that the checklist just gives the illusion of accountability where there truly is none? It gives a false sense of security, that “if the checklist is done, then it must be true!” Why must we continue to fool ourselves with delusions?

So what should be done? We have to ensure that each ambulance or fire company has the appropriate amount of equipment each day, right? What better way than a checklist no one looks at?

Do everyone a favor. Abolish the checklist.