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Monday, October 4, 2010

Is The Scene Safe?

Ask any EMT just out of school to walk through a scenerio with you and it will always start out the same. Is the scene safe?

This is something that is drilled into EMS personnel from day one. In any emergency situation, we need to make sure that we don't add patients to the problem. Another way of looking at it is if I get injured/killed, who is going to take care of the initial problem? No offense to the general public, but my highest priority is going home at the end of my shift. I think most people would understand this position. Not everyone.

There has recently been a mild uproar in the EMS blogging community about the comments made by Kenneth Stokes. Mr Stokes is upset because of the apparent inaction of an ambulance crew in his community. The AMR unit was dispatched to a shooting and were "staging" or waiting until the police officers cleared the scene. Roughly 20 minutes elapsed from the time of the call to the time that the patient was seen. Stokes asserts that the medics had a responsibility to go into harms way to treat the patient.  

Read the news story here.

My question to Mr Stokes is this: Why would you send someone into an emergency situation for which they have not been trained or equipped? Medics (there are exceptions to this) are not trained in police tactics. They aren't issued body armour and a gun. No where in their job description does it say that they are expected to perform under gun fire. Do you ask your police officers to go into a hazardous materials release to get a victim? I bet you wouldn't. And you'd be right not to do that. Without the training and equipment you would just be sending in another body for the FD to drag out. And trust me, the cop would come out before the civilian.

Mr Stokes, our job is dangerous. We do it anyways. We deal with the dangers for which we have been trained. We work on streets, freeways, highways, in upside down vehicles, with blood borne diseases, fires (in the case of fire/medics), electrical hazards, HAZMAT situations and do it all as carefully as we can. We know those risks and do what we can to mitigate them. The way we mitigate a potential violent scene is by calling PD and letting them do what they have been trained to do.

If you agree or especially if you disagree, I'd love to hear from you.


Hydrant girl said...

Well said; and even up here that's our first question. No offence Mr. Stokes but today isn't a good day for me to die. I'm busy tomorrow too.

kipspop said...

I think Mr. Stokes smug smile should be removed from your blog. What a jerk.

Rachel said...

Who is this guy? For some reason it makes me extra angry when it's *ahem* a very overweight person making comments like that. When my DH gets hired on at the FD I don't want him getting killed because someone like Mr. Stokes loved his fried foods and milkshakes too much to slim down enough that a 185 lb man could drag his butt out of a burning building. I guess that was slightly irrelevant, but the guys seems like a jerk for sure!

Cristina said...

There seems to be a preponderance of anecdotal evidence that would prove that it is the best course of action to stay the course, wait for scene to be secured and then to proceed. And while this may be only anecdotal evidence, there is a reason why there is a great deal of it: because it is the best course of action. It is the stuff policies and procedures are made of.

Clearly, it does not make sense in any way to sacrifice many for the off-chance that a few might be saved. Another similar systemic procedure is in place on airplanes. We are told on every flight to put on our oxygen mask before helping anyone else. Essentially, we are securing the safety of our own "scene" before going in to another.

Our emergency responders are of no help to our communities if they are reckless in their judgment. That's their job -- to exercise good judgment and to expedite the best course of action.

melaniek said...

I agree, very well said. Hubby was just telling me about the scenarios they do in class and how this is being drilled in their heads.

Anonymous said...

Our own safety has to be our first priority in every situation... like they tell you 100 times in school" a dead EMT/medic/firefighter is no good to anybody"

I can see why someone who hasn't thought it through or has emotional connections with a tragic situation would be upset, but personal safety is just our job.

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