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Police in EMS: Inter-agency cooperation is vital

Citizens and their elected officials must also understand the implications, however temporary, for all the involved agencies

Editor's note: When Collier paramedics need an extra set of hands at Immokalee medical emergencies, Collier deputies already on scene could be called on to ride in the rear compartment of ambulances with patients. Chief Adam K. Thiel looks at the issues involved below.

It certainly is not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to assist fire and EMS departments with patient care.

In some jurisdictions, the local sheriff's office or police department is actually the primary provider of EMS, and even fire protection, response.

However they are deployed, inter-agency cooperation is always vital in these relationships, and that's certainly a positive dimension to this case, in marked contrast to another story on FireRescue1 this week of the fire chief cleared of fireground wrongdoing.

I think the central issue is addressed by several of those quoted in this story, who speak of the arrangement as a way to "bridge the gap," and not a permanent fix.

The question is whether or not the citizens and their elected officials understand the implications, however temporary, for all the involved agencies.

There will undoubtedly be an emergency incident, at some point in the future, where every sheriff's deputy, EMS provider, and firefighter onscene will be needed to do those things only they are trained to do.

At that point there will be difficult choices to make about what gets done, when, and by whom.

Those choices will have consequences, and it's vital to make sure the at-large public understands them.

Stay safe!

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