Make this page my home page
  1. Drag the home icon in this panel and drop it onto the "house icon" in the tool bar for the browser

  2. Select "Yes" from the popup window and you're done!

Print Comment RSS

Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Civilian rescuer: hero or threat

Community education is the best way to teach civilians how not to add to the emergency when trying to perform a rescue

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: Chief Adam K. Thiel looks at how civilian-performed rescues can go either very well or very bad and advises how to best prepare residents for Good Samaritan situations. 

We hear a lot these days about the whole-community approach to emergency prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.

For good reasons, we're spending time trying to educate our residents about our capabilities, limitations and how they can help themselves —and their neighbors — after a disaster or emergency incident. We know that governments, including fire departments, cannot always provide all the necessary services after a catastrophic event.

As these stories demonstrate, however, there is a potential downside to having untrained civilians — sometimes called Good Samaritans — attempt to mitigate emergencies before the arrival of trained responders.

We know, of course, that emergency scenes can be dangerous even for skilled professionals (career and volunteer) with proper PPE and equipment. To the average person, though, our job can look "easy" sometimes, especially when the hazards are invisible or difficult to identify.

So how do we help people find a balance between "neighbor helping neighbor" and keeping themselves safe?

The answer, as with so many things, is public education. Beyond the opportunities we have to reach people through delivering regular fire and life safety curricula, we can also develop CERT programs and other training packages that give folks the tools to "do no harm" to themselves and others.

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.



Comments
The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of FireRescue1.com or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
No comments

FireRescue1 Offers

Disaster Management
Disaster Management

Connect with FireRescue1

Mobile Apps Facebook Twitter Google+

Get the #1 Fire eNewsletter

Fire Newsletter Sign up for our FREE email roundup of the top news, tips, columns, videos and more, sent 3 times weekly
Enter Email
See Sample