Cross Training: The Risks and Rewards of Consolidating First Responder Skills

Cross Training: The Risks and Rewards of Consolidating First Responder Skills

As those who work within the fire, law enforcement, and EMS fields know, there is very little middle ground between those who favor cross training—often referred to as “consolidation,” or the act of training one professional group with some combination of the other two groups’ skills—and those who oppose it. Voices on both sides of this debate make cogent points. Though the practice has recently come into vogue as a cost-cutting measure, communities may also utilize it as a talent- or staffing-optimization tool, among other uses. However, several potential risk factors and the need for a highly tailored deployment make initial success anything but guaranteed. The purpose of this report is to provide an objective overview on the topic, including relevant facts, comparison of success and failures, and takes on the opinions first responders have expressed regarding this contentious topic.

As those who work within the fire, law enforcement, and EMS fields know, there is very little middle ground between those who favor cross training—often referred to as “consolidation,” or the act of training one professional group with some combination of the other two groups’ skills—and those who oppose it. Voices on both sides of this debate make cogent points. Though the practice has recently come into vogue as a cost-cutting measure, communities may also utilize it as a talent- or staffing-optimization tool, among other uses. However, several potential risk factors and the need for a highly tailored deployment make initial success anything but guaranteed. The purpose of this report is to provide an objective overview on the topic, including relevant facts, comparison of success and failures, and takes on the opinions first responders have expressed regarding this contentious topic.

The National Decertification Index (NDI) is a national registry of police officers whose law enforcement credentials have been revoked due to misconduct.

For more than 10 years, the NDI has provided police departments, state agencies, and other organizations with decertification data about potential hires.