This is a piece Kim wrote for her wider team at work to highlight the importance of team work and working towards a common goal.
Discovering the True Value Of Team Work
I’ve been thinking a lot about teamwork lately and the importance it plays in my life, both at work and at home.
In this new world of Sainsbury’s Argos where the two companies are merging and the future is uncertain it can sometimes drive behaviour more associated to survival than working together to achieve a common goal, however by trusting each other, being open and working collaboratively we can create a healthy working environment that ultimately leads to success for our customers and the business.
For me personally team work now means much more…
As many of you will know my 3 year old son suffers from a rare and severe form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. Sadly this means he doesn’t walk, talk or eat, and has 50-100 seizures a day.
Looking after Toby has taught me that effective teamwork can be the difference between life and death.
The severity of his seizures varies and require different responses. Some lead to him falling unconscious and hurting himself, hence he always wears a helmet, and others mean he stops breathing so his life is at risk.
Every few days he has a longer seizure that requires medical intervention: he turns blue (cyanosis) and requires oxygen to limit the risk of brain damage; he can stop breathing and requires resuscitation; he needs rescue medication if the seizure hasn’t stopped after 5 minutes. We used to call an ambulance every time this happened (we’ve had over 100 ambulances to the house) and were looked after by the fantastic NHS ambulance service, however over the years through teamwork my husband and I have learnt how to deal with these emergencies ourselves.
I’ve been reflecting on how we have achieved this and what enables us to calmly (most of the time) deal with a situation that is frequently an acute medical emergency.
We have clear roles
When Toby has a tonic clonic (grand mal) seizure, we immediately start counting in our heads, if it lasts more than 10 seconds then we spring into action. Tim will be timing the seizure using an app he has developed to record additional information about the type of seizure and our actions; I put Toby is a safe position, he often ends up face down when he falls unconscious; I ensure he is breathing and if not give mouth to mouth resuscitation at the same time Tim is getting oxygen (we have a tank in every room); I administer the oxygen. At 4 minutes if it hasn’t stopped we get the rescue medication ready and decide whether we need to call an ambulance.
If we do need an ambulance Tim calls 999 while I stabilise Toby, he will greet the crew and give them a synopsis of the situation so far and then jointly we’ll make a decision on the next steps.
All of this happens with barely a word passing between us, as we are both know exactly what our role is and what to do.
We trust each other
In a highly stressful emergency situation it’s essential that we trust each. Questioning what the other is doing and how they are doing it causes delays and self-doubt.
We review what’s happened
The finely oiled machine we have become is a result of being open with each other, looking back at what happened, learning from it and changing our behaviour.
We know what we are trying to achieve
Our objective is clear, we need to keep Toby alive and stop the seizure as soon as possible so that it reduces the risks to his brain. 15% of children with Dravet Syndrome don’t make it to adulthood so the threat to his life is very real. Having this shared objective ensures that our egos don’t get in the way of what we are trying to do and our strength as a team continues to grow.
Through our situation, we have learned the true value of communication, relationships and teamwork, as a result we are more effective at looking after Toby and happier as a family.