Violence Against First Responders

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Violence Against First Responders


Gordon Graham
Category: Fire & Rescue

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for fire and EMS personnel. And it’s about violent encounters on the job. 

Headlines show us that the risk of violence to fire and EMS personnel is real – and increasing

Folks, I served more than 30 years in law enforcement. So when it comes to the risk of violence, my mindset is that of a cop: Every contact carries the potential for violence. A healthy level of suspicion and vigilance are essential.  

Fire and EMS personnel don’t typically have this mindset. But headlines show us that the risk of violence to fire and EMS personnel is real – and increasing.  

Emotionally unstable people. Those under the influence of powerful substances. Or those just determined to lash out at anyone in uniform. These all create the need to recognize indicators of a situation with the potential for violence. 

So how do you do that? First, slow down and process the information on the call before entering the scene. Ask yourself if you have all the information you need to minimize any threats. 

Second, remain situationally aware. The emergency scene is never entirely safe. Actively scan for critical clues. How is the patient acting? Do you recognize any verbal or physical signs of escalation? Is there anything around that can be used as a weapon?  

Third, be aware of situational shifts. Are things developing as expected based on your experience? Don’t be afraid to follow your intuition. 

Fourth, always protect your exit. Don’t allow the violence to separate you from your escape route.  

And finally, know what to do if things do get violent. If dispatch asks for an update, what do you communicate? Some departments have instituted a standard distress code. Others activate an emergency radio button. Know how to effectively communicate that you’re not OK even if you need to maintain a covert position.   

Fire and EMS personnel are focused on aiding and assisting. That will never change. But in today’s world, you must also be prepared for any incident to turn violent. Protect yourself so you can protect others.  

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off. 

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