FBU Learning has helped me gain confidence and skills

Sarah Litt

My name is Sarah Litt and I joined County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) in November 2018 as a Community Risk Officer. I work within the Community Safety Team and perform a range of duties. These duties include safe and well being home visits to vulnerable members of our community, engaging young individuals in fireplay education sessions, presenting in schools on a range of topics and working closely with partner agencies to help keep members of our communities safe in their homes.

I have always been keen to develop my knowledge in any role I complete, and prior to enrolling on the Providing Information, Advice and Guidance course, I had completed two other courses through my voluntary Special Constable role in Durham Constabulary. The courses were Understanding Young Peoples Mental Health and Working with People with Learning Difficulties. These courses are also available through the FBU Learning Centre.

When I started at CDDFRS I was pleased to see the FBU Learning poster in the staff room advertising the opportunity to complete further learning. I made an enquiry online, and when next enrolment came around, Dave Welsh contacted me to arrange getting me started. It was a simple process and I felt confident if I had any problems along the way, Dave would be there to help.

The reason I chose the Providing Information, Advice and Guidance course was that whilst I have given advice to many people in previous jobs and whilst on duty in my police role, I have never had any guidance myself on how to do it. I thought I had a good idea of what I should be doing, and in a way, wanted to check I was doing things right.

I received my booklets and was contacted a week or so later by my tutor. The tutor offered telephone or email contact to assist me along my way. I had two units to complete and 4 weeks for each unit. I was happy to know the support was there from the tutor if needed.

Since completing the course in May 2019, I have had the confidence in my ability to provide advice within my area of expertise, and I am not afraid to refer individuals to other agencies that could help them in ways my skills cannot. I can articulate why I feel a referral is better, and know who to pass the service user onto.

Two months after completing the course, I was asked by our group manager to attend a local school assembly and be filmed talking about water safety for ITV Tyne Tees. The assembly was a team effort between the Durham County Council, the local councillor, CDDRS and a local mother who had sadly lost her son from cold water shock.

The aim of the assembly was to raise awareness of cold water shock, what it is, how it occurs and the effect it has on the body. It was a few weeks before the six week school break, and the weather was very warm. The key messages were acclimatise to the water before swimming. When immersed in water fully straight away, the body can involuntarily gasp and the can increase the breathing rate, meaning that chances of inhaling water increase. It can only take half a pint of water for an adult to start to drown. The other effect the cold will have, is it will constrict the blood vessels in the body, meaning the heart has to work harder to get blood around the body, increasing the risks of a heart attack even in the young and healthy.

I would recommend the courses offered by FBU Learning and there is something to suit all requirements. Whether you want to build on existing skills or develop new skills. The support was excellent. It will build your knowledge, confidence and understanding of others. It is flexible and you can complete the work around your current work or home commitments. I would say to anyone thinking about enrolling on a FBU Learning course, then just do it!

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Sarah Litt

Sarah Litt is a Community Risk Officer with the Fire Brigade in the North East.