"Sweet dreams tonight Germbuster. Do not let the nightmares in future nights during this exercise put you off. Soon you may wish you are getting lots of articles and analysing them. Nevertheless, I am glad that you like the diarrhoea. I will see if I can get more shit coming your way. Getting organised and being resourceful will stand you in good stead. Also, foregoing tea breaks may be a luxury you will enjoy."
... and the pressure is ON!
So today we learned that Health Protection Agency's job is HARD. In the morning we became one big buzzing think-tank gathering and evaluating information. We learned how a given amount of information can be "not enough" and nearly "too much to handle" at the same time. A nice juicy piece of information can be treacherous: it can bring you closer to a conclusion or lead you to a dead end - so now we know that it is useful to be weary try to tell the two apart as early as possible.
I think time pressure and limited resources caused us some frustration today. At the same time these limitations meant we had to prioritise our efforts, go into not too much detail and invole all members of the team in our work. Which I suppose reflects reality - with a threat of a potential outbreak HPA needs to move fast and multitask. And, of course, each day could bring a completely different threat so they can't be experts in everything and I suppose quite often have to improvise.
The task today was significantly more complex and very much outside of our area of expertise (or so it seemed :). Our process was definitely more labour intensive compared to yesterday, going on in fits and starts.
I think if I had another go at today I would make the roles of our team members more discreet (division of labour!) earlier on and brought in at least one more computer so that we could research different angles simultaneously. I think our organisation and communication suffered a little under today's time constraints (it was evident in our somewhat under-prepared Q&A video conference session with our sibling hospital). But we will learn from that.
All in all we arrived at some reasonable conclusions by ourselves, and starting from scratch that has to count for something!;) I think what also matters is that we all took part in brainstorming bits where we tried to form conclusions, which was great because the more of us spoke, the more good ideas we had and the faster we could move on.
... and my team mates took some interest in this blog. Much to my embarrassment. Oh dear, I'm meta-reflecting. This blogging stuff is freaky...
Let's move on to the ramblings proper.
I am proud to say we all took some time last night and did our homework which meant our job today was much easier and more focused on analysing information rather than gathering it. And we had ample time to agree on our presentation and lines of argument.
I think we did a reasonable job communicating with the team in Burton, utilising the wonders of modern technology (email! speakerphone!). The speakerphone use turned out to pose similar difficulties to the videoconference. It felt artificial and it wasn't at all easy to discuss ideas. We had to be specific in our questions to be legible. We were positively surprised with how well the other team did their job and felt our input was equal and satisfactory.
I was a bit disappointed with the level of grilling at the videoconference meeting though. I was hoping to show off more of our handsome background research ;)
As for tomorrow... I hope learning about the ins and outs of the water supply and treatment will be a bit more spectacular than it sounds.
PS. The CSI moments in the Clinical Skills unit were much appreciated :)