Off-Duty Intervention for First Responders

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Off-Duty Intervention for First Responders


Gordon Graham
Category: Public Safety

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for all my friends in public safety. Today Im talking about intervening on scenes when you’re not on duty. 

Should you get involved? Maybe. Or maybe not. 

Wanting to help is ingrained in public safety personnel. It’s what we’re trained to do. It’s what we want to do. Many times, it’s what we THINK we NEED to do. 

When on-duty, we’re required to be involved in emergency operations. But what happens when you’re on the way home from work? At the grocery store? Or on vacation with your family? 

Those situations can present a unique challenge. Should you get involved? Maybe. Or maybe not. 

Let’s say you come upon an incident with other responders already on the scene. Do the assigned responders appear short-handed? Do you have the equipment and training required? If so, a quick inquiry to the incident commander is likely your next step.  

But even if you’re given the go-ahead to help, you need to be sure what happens if you get hurt. Will the department you’re assisting cover you? Will your home department cover you? Or are you on your own?  

Now let’s say you’re the first on scene, BEFORE any dispatched responders. These situations can be even murkier. Depending on the state, medically trained personnel may have a duty to act. Even if there is no law requiring action, you may have an ethical obligation. In most cases, the obligation is based on having the training and available equipment.  

The time to figure out your options and obligations for providing help while off-duty is now. Understand how you’re expected to perform and how you’ll be covered if you’re injured while providing service in an off-duty capacity. That way, you’ll be able to act with confidence and clarity.  

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

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