Assaults on firefighters and EMTs are an increasingly common occurrence. According to the Angels of Mercy survey, 80 percent of the firefighters surveyed stated that they have been assaulted while on the job. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that about 52 percent of EMTs operating in the field have been assaulted. With such numbers showing a prevalence toward assault and harm befalling first responders, it is important for departments to devise the necessary training to help firefighters and EMTs know how to protect themselves.
Increased news coverage of firefighters and EMTs being assaulted on the job
Unfortunately, news coverage is showing that assaults on firefighters and EMTs are happening everywhere and in various different ways. For example, WSVN Channel 7 News reported that while rescuers were treating a man on July 18, 2013, he suddenly punched a firefighter in the face and ran away and barricaded himself in his Fort Lauderdale, Florida, apartment until police were able to convince him to come out.
In another example, two firefighters were shot and killed in Monroe County, New York, and two others were injured while trying to put out a structure fire, reported Fire Chief News. The list of injuries and assaults to firefighters and EMTs can go on and on unfortunately.
The debate is on for arming EMTs and firefighters
Some argue that the answer to firefighter and EMT assault is to train and arm men and women so that they can better defend themselves, reported EMS World. However, not everyone is in agreement, and even those who bring the subject up are hesitant to fully support the idea without further discussion and study.
"My goal was to stimulate discussion and get people to look at both sides of it," Tim Holman, BA, EMT-P, CFO, chief of German Township Fire and EMS in Clark County, OH, told the news source. "I'm not 100 percent convinced it's something we should do. But I think [dangers] are going to get worse out there, and one of the biggest problems we have is denial that there's a problem. Some people still seem to think we're not going to have any more attacks, and I'm a firm believer we will. So ultimately my challenge to the class was to keep the discussion going, and let's figure out what we can do about this."
Assault training being offered to firefighters and EMTs
Training for how to react to an assault or prevent one is being offered to firefighters and EMTs. According to Fire Chief Magazine, assault prevention training for firefighters and EMTs should include a de-escalation drill to practice talking down volatile situations to try and deter the eruption of violence. In the midst of an emergency situation, knowing how to quickly deal with a person assaulting a firefighter or EMT is important. Too many variables are happening during these moments that can add fuel to a dangerous situation.
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