Staying safe: Keep your head on a swivel

Recent incidents demonstrate that we always need to consider our personal situational awareness

Editor’s Note:

Editor's note: With a man arrested after trying to move fire truck and a Miami firefighter robbed at gunpoint during a hydrant check, check out Chief Adam K. Thiel's thoughts below on these two recent incidents.

As firefighters and EMS providers, we often take our safety for granted when we're out in the community performing "non-emergency" activities. (Or even inside the fire station...)

Both of these stories demonstrate that we always need to consider our personal situational awareness (when I was growing up, we called it "street smarts") 24/7/365, and not just during emergency incidents.

Early in my career, I remember a directive to remove our badges, collar brass, and nameplates so we wouldn't be confused with law enforcement officers by a local gang that was threatening to harm public safety personnel.

With the current political debate about the role of government and government officials (including, yes, many firefighters), there's no telling what kind of behavior(s) to expect from people we encounter every day; in the grocery store, testing hydrants, driving down the street, or in the midst of an emergency incident.

So keep your "head on a swivel" and 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.

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