Over the course of his thirty-plus year career in public safety, Marc Yeston has worked as a flight paramedic, a federal and state law enforcement officer, a firefighter, a ski patroller, a National Park Service chief ranger, a wilderness guide, an educator and a pilot. The bulk of his career was spent leading emergency and search & rescue operations at the busiest inland search & rescue venue in the country—Grand Canyon National Park.
For the past twenty-five years, Marc has had daily opportunities to practically apply the principles of High Reliability and New View Safety under the tutelage of mentors including Dr. Todd Conklin.
“For the longest time I worked in operations that viewed human error as ‘bad choices’ to be corrected. Realizing that human error is a normal part of our work environments, I came to apply operational learning informed by the New View. As a result we blamed less, learned more and measurably improved our high-value operations by changing our approach from ‘blaming and punishing’ to ‘learning and improving.’ The result: Safer, more engaged workers, better outcomes, cost savings and a climate of mutual respect and mission clarity up and down our chain of command.”
“I thought the work we did so successfully was rather unique until I realized that the approach of safety in the New View is relevant and valuable no matter the nature of the work, tools or disciplines involved. Substitute the words ‘helicopter & rope’ with ‘ladder and hammer’ and we’re really talking about the same things…workers encountering the job with the tools of their trade in challenging operational environments.”
Now a retired chief ranger, Marc serves as an instructor and trainer in wilderness emergency medicine, search and rescue, human performance and operational learning. He has provided training to companies and organizations involved in high-hazard, high value work ranging from high-voltage utility workers, mariners at sea, production floor employees, managers, supervisors and even astronauts.
“People, with few exceptions, take pride in their work and perform it reliably day after day. When something goes wrong it seems so easy to blame, fix and re-train the worker. We go home feeling like the problem has been identified and solved. When we do this, we’ve actually fixed nothing in our systems. We’ve left our workforce in the same environment that made the mishap or tragedy possible in the first place. Asking the right questions about the traps and vulnerabilities in our systems, working together to improve the conditions and engaging the ‘people who know the work’ is a bit harder to do initially but the pay-off is immense.”
Marc engages workers and managers with dramatic stories from his world of high-hazard work. Participants come away with a new appreciation for the complexities their workers face every day but more importantly, they come away with a new vocabulary and fresh insights relevant to making their own worlds safer, more productive and so much better.
“Getting the job done well, creating value and getting home safe is the bottom line. Engaging management and the workers to understand and position themselves for success is paramount. When you choose to learn, you’ve made the choice to lead.”
Marc lives with his wife and daughter in Crested Butte, Colorado, and Moab, Utah. He spends his free time paddling, skiing, hiking and exploring the Colorado Plateau—without the polyester uniform. “So much more comfortable…”