EMT teams, law enforcement officials, and firefighters are some of the bravest professionals in the world. When everyone else is running away from danger, they all run towards it. As we saw on September 11th, 2001 where hundreds of firefighters, policemen, and other public safety officers risked and gave their own lives to save and help so many unsuspecting civilians. They have a dangerous job, one that not everyone can do or would do, which is why they command the utmost respect and admiration.
Firefighters, EMT teams, and other public safety professionals respond to all kinds of calls for help, and being first-responders sometimes run into bigger problems than what they were called in for. Often times, the individual or individuals who committed the crime are still on the scene, and it’s important for the first responders to recognize potential danger and react accordingly. If an ambulance is called to the scene of a gunshot, and they arrive to find the gunman on scene, their own safety is now priority. These trained professionals keep their wits about them, call for law enforcement, and try to care for the injured while staying out of harm’s way. The last thing you want to do in these situations is aggravate the gunman. As an EMT team, if you cannot treat the injured victim and the gunman is aggressive, it’s better to retreat to a safe location and wait for law enforcement rather than trying to be a hero or else you may be the next victim.
Crowds often gather at the scene of fire and crimes like a car accident or fist fight. It’s important for first responders to recognize the threat level of the crowd, and take the appropriate steps. Some crowds are harmless and either just happened to be in the area, or gathered to watch firefighters fight a fire. They can also be a good thing and offer critical information like telling firemen or law enforcement officers there are still people in a burning building, people trapped in an overturned vehicle, etc. The type of crowd to watch for is the aggressive or angry crowd that is dangerous to everyone around it; and is often the cause of the crimes the firefighters or law enforcement officials were called for. If a fire team is responding to a fire that an angry crowd started, the fire is a symptom of a crowd. Often times it’s better to wait for law enforcement officials to escort your team or clear out the crowd before extinguishing the fire.
As an EMT, firefighter, law enforcement officer, or other first-responder it’s important to recognize and respond to on-scene threats or risk putting yourself, your team, and others in danger. The first thing is to communicate with your team and dispatch – keep them informed of the situation and call for law enforcement if needed. The next thing is to find cover or a safe position. Putting yourself or your team at risk is only going to cause more problems. Keep a cool head and assess the situation. You may find yourself in a situation where you are confronted by a gunman or dangerous individual. In these situations many times it is better to submit and not be aggressive because any sign of aggression may set off the dangerous individual and put yourself in danger. Try and talk to them and wait for assistance to arrive. Other times, fighting may be your only option for survival, especially when faced with a shooter trying to kill everyone around them.
Regardless of what on-scene threat situation you may find yourself in, remember your training, assess the situation as a whole, and act accordingly. Keep yourself and your team out of danger, help those in need, and don’t instigate further crimes, injuries, or damage.