When those responding to emergencies aren’t also looking out for their safety, they can end up doing more harm than good.
Here are four safety tips for law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs and responders alike on how to stay safe in crisis.
Safety Tips 1 – Always Be Prepared
No matter where you’re responding to a call, it’s important to be adequately equipped for whatever waits for you on the scene. This includes everything from protective gear to safety equipment to all the necessary first aid solutions.
Emergencies strike at any moment and having gear readily available and vehicles equipped ahead of time will ensure you have everything you need to safely approach any situation.
Another reason it’s crucial to be properly prepared is for the safety of your partner and other first responders. Having the right equipment means you are ready to back up your partner or fellow responder in moments of crisis.
Safety Tips 2 – Drive Carefully to Your Location
Getting to the scene quickly is important, but you don’t want to put yourself and others in danger in the process.
Though lights and sirens make them hard to miss on the road, emergency vehicles are not invincible, and collisions to and from the scene are not uncommon.
To avoid accidents, drivers should limit distractions, including maps or GPS, and holding conversations with or tending to passengers.
Safety Tips 3 – Practice “Scene Safety”
From car accidents to house fires to areas of natural disaster, first responders have seen it all. However, expecting the unexpected is a part of the job, as it may not be possible to paint the whole picture until you arrive.
Part of being a first responder knows that everything is not always as it seems. No two situations are alike, so evaluating every scene individually is paramount to getting everyone – civilians and responders – to safety.
It is the responsibility of those persons with specialized training to take control and secure the site. Scene safety is something all first responders are taught to execute consistently. It entails taking a proper assessment of any scene, analyzing surroundings and harnessing awareness.
Before and while traveling to the scene, start by observing:
Are all emergency vehicles being taken to the scene fueled, well-equipped and safe to transport yourself, your partner, and a patient or other potential passenger?
Is the driver operating the vehicle by the book?
Are others on the road responding appropriately to oncoming sirens?
Upon arriving at the site of emergency, check the following:
Have you parked the response vehicle strategically and securely?
Can you be able to properly survey the scene?
Is there hazardous material, such as glass and debris?
Are there screaming, crying or overly anxious bystanders that indicate an active threat?
Are you wearing and carrying all necessary items to approach the scene?
Tip 4 – Take Care of Your Mind and Body
“Self-care” is defined in many ways, but at its core, it means how well you preserve your health. To perform the tall orders given to first responders, you must be in good shape on a simple, functional level.
On a fundamental level, self-care for first responders includes sleeping well and resting enough as well as getting proper nutrition to fuel your body. Maintaining good mental and physical health will help in every aspect of the job by keeping you more alert and heightening your focus those critical moments.
While assisting patients and fellow civilians is top priority, it’s important not to forget your safety and wellbeing. The safety of our communities would not be possible without first responders, so remaining vigilant and cautious will ensure you keep yourself safe while fulfilling your duty of helping others.
Benjamin Hadlock is Vice President of BlowHard Fans, an innovator in industrial fans for firefighters. For more than a decade, Hadlock has been a driving force in BlowHard Fans’ strategic journey in research and quantification of fan performance as part of product development. He has been instrumental in relationship building and information sharing within the industry.