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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Don't get caught unprepared for violence

Although beloved by the public, violence can and is directed at fire and EMS personnel

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's Note: Chief Adam K. Thiel urges us to keep a sharp eye out for those who would do us harm, and to understand what do in a potentially violent setting.

This story from Ireland is a great reminder that, despite being consistently rated the "most trusted profession" (career or volunteer) in surveys taken across the globe, firefighters can still find themselves exposed to violence of a human nature.

Like many of our FireRescue1 readers, there have been several occasions during my fire and emergency services career where I found myself and my crew in dangerous and violent situations. Right or wrong, we sometimes made a conscious decision to do so; and sometimes it took us by surprise.

Just today, some of my own members found themselves in a difficult situation on the scene of an otherwise "routine" incident. Fortunately, nobody was hurt and law enforcement back-up was quick to arrive.

No matter where or how your fire department operates, it's critical to make sure that everyone is trained on your SOPs/SOGs for handling violent incidents.

Recognizing the danger to firefighters, and unfortunate frequency, of these events, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation made Violent Incident Response one of its 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives

Take some time to review the NFFF White Paper on this important topic, as well as discuss your own department's protocols and procedures for staying safe during — or even better, staying out of — these situations.

As that wise captain told me years ago: "Keep you eyes up and your head on a swivel!"  
 

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.



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