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Cyber alert: Public safety systems are currently under attack

FirstWatch’s Mike Taigman and Bill Ott discuss the cyberattack warning and lessons learned from a N.C. ransomware attack

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FirstWatch’s Mike Taigman and Bill Ott report on the up-to-the-minute situation as cyberattacks on public safety systems continue.


This episode of EMS One-Stop With Rob Lawrence is brought to you by Lexipol, the experts in policy, training, wellness support and grants assistance for first responders and government leaders. To learn more, visit

On Jan. 29, 2022, FirstWatch took an exceptional step in issuing a cyberattack warning as cyber and ransomware attacks in the U.S. were peaking.

FirstWatch’s systems identified public safety infrastructure and sites were included in this round of direct attacks.

In this rapidly recorded EMS One-Stop podcast, Rob Lawrence first chats with Mike Taigman as to why FirstWatch decided to send out a far-reaching alert.

He is then joined by FirstWatch cyber security specialist, Bill Ott who discusses the types of attacks observed as well as the up-to-the-minute situation as attempts on public safety systems are continuing.

By way of further example, Bill also discusses the ransomware attack that occurred in Durham, North Carolina, and extracts lessons learned from that event that can be used as strategies in the current elevated threat environment.


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Rob Lawrence has been a leader in civilian and military EMS for over a quarter of a century. He is currently the director of strategic implementation for PRO EMS and its educational arm, Prodigy EMS, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and part-time executive director of the California Ambulance Association.

He previously served as the chief operating officer of the Richmond Ambulance Authority (Virginia), which won both state and national EMS Agency of the Year awards during his 10-year tenure. Additionally, he served as COO for Paramedics Plus in Alameda County, California.

Prior to emigrating to the U.S. in 2008, Rob served as the COO for the East of England Ambulance Service in Suffolk County, England, and as the executive director of operations and service development for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust. Rob is a former Army officer and graduate of the UK’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served worldwide in a 20-year military career encompassing many prehospital and evacuation leadership roles.

Rob is a board member of the Academy of International Mobile Healthcare Integration (AIMHI) as well as chair of the American Ambulance Association’s State Association Forum. He writes and podcasts for EMS1 and is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Connect with him on Twitter.