If, in moving through your life, you find yourself lost...go back to the last place where you knew who you were, and what you were doing, and start from there. Bernice Johnson Reagon.

06 November 2012

The ability to not become a victim

Over at JEMS Chief Skip Kirkwood has written an article concerning self-defense for EMS folks. You can go here and read it.

It is a pretty good article and it addresses what seems to be a growing problem.

The standard response is always “Don’t get yourself into that bad situation”, “Stage for law enforcement”, and “Retreat when things start to go bad”.

Good advice. When it works.

You see, EMS folks get themselves into all sorts of situations that have the potential to go south without warning. And there you are, in the back bedroom of a house. On the second floor.

What do you do?

Retreat? You have several family members to get through. And the stairs. And you’re on the second floor.

You could push that orange button? If your service has one. And if your digital radio system has 100% coverage (yeah, right).

You could call for help. But wait, that radio is stuck cutely to your belt in the small of your back.


Think about it while you and your partner are getting your asses kicked. Or worse.

Now, there are those that are going to say arm EMS. Give EMS concealed carry. OK, as a former Army medic I am OK with packing heat. I packed an M16A1 and an M9, along with a pair of M67s. But it was a different situation and is another entire topic.

So what's taking you so long?
In this scenario, you were caught off guard. It was a “Grandma fell down and went boom” call. 17A3G. Good neighborhood. The family is pissed off because you are not helping Grandma fast enough Now the feces has hit the fan.

It’s simple. We need training and education that goes beyond “Scene safe and PPE”.

The days of narrow focus EMT and paramedic classes are coming to an end. Actually, they should have 
already ended.

We spend a lot of time talking about how to do things. How to put on a splint, dress a wound, start an IV, and place an ET tube. We do not spend enough time on why, but that, too, is another topic. 

We also spend a lot of time sending our people into potentially bad situations with no preparation and no real plan on how to deal with that situation when it arises.

We also need to include, as a part of our initial training and our ongoing training, instruction on self-defense tactics, verbal and physical. If it adds 50-75 hours to an EMT class, the so be it.

If it adds 26-48 hours of training every other year or so to our continuing education program, the so be it.

If it means that we have to have better physical fitness standards, well, so be it. And if it means we have to maintain those standards, well, so be that, too.

We should not be setting our people up to be victims.


Alan W. Rose said...

While I am a firm believer in being armed on and off the job, reality dicates that I must follow my employer's rules and prevailing laws and regulations. What do you do if your state EMS regulations and your employer allow you to carry a sidearm, but you get called to a place that you cannot legally carry that sidearm, such as a courtroom or jail? That being said, I carry OC spray and would definitely agree to carrying a Taser if allowed, in addition to all the other situational awareness and defensive tactics necessary to complete my shift.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Alan. and think all public safety officers, (EMS, Police, and Fire) who carry a firearm on duty should receive the same standard of firearms training and licensing.

But that isn't the big problem. I think the biggest problem exists where providers get this mindset that no danger can happen to them - just because their patch says "Ambulance" or "EMT". And it's a mindset that gets reinforced and echoed too often.

I carry OC on a regular basis, and just had a new partner tell me that he didn't feel comfortable with anyone around him having pepper spray ...

glong581p@yahoo.com said...

I agree wholeheartedly! We need to teach a lot of why's. And I for one feel that EMS personnel should be issued Vests that are bullet proof and knife proof, and be allowed to carry some sort of personal protection that would work. We are taught to "do no harm" but we should never be somebody's punching bag, or worse.

Ambulance Driver said...

People on both sides of the arming EMS debate have unreasonable expectations and misconceptions, but better and more extensive training in self-defense is something both sides should be able to agree on.

9-ECHO-1 said...

Thanks for the comments, ya'll. Here in NC we have the following that dictates weapons on EMS vehicles-

(a) Weapons, as defined by the local county district attorney's office, and explosives shall not be worn or carried aboard an ambulance or EMS nontransporting vehicle within the State of North Carolina when the vehicle is operating in any patient treatment or transport capacity or is available for such function.
(b) This Rule shall apply whether or not such weapons and explosives are concealed or visible.
(c) This Rule shall not apply to duly appointed law enforcement officers.
(d) Safety flares are authorized for use on an ambulance with the following restrictions:
(1) These devices are not stored inside the patient compartment of the ambulance; and
(2) These devices shall be packaged and stored so as to prevent accidental discharge or ignition.

Whether or not EMS folks are armed is another topic entirely and one that surely deserves debate. What I want to see is training and education for field personnel in how to defend themselves in the unexpected event when things "go south". When we know we are going into a bad situation, of course, we need to stay out until it is secured. However, it goes back to those situations when there is no indication that things may go bad. We need for EMS personnel to have training and education on how to verbally diffuse a situation, how to defend themselves when things get physical, and how to remain alert to their situation.

My only fear is that when it comes down to extra training, there will be an outcry from everyone from the students to field personnel t managers to educators.