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Vigilance in the face of violence


While returning to the station, a fire engine was struck by a bullet, as reported in Near Miss report 6425.

Photo/Near Miss

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By Brad Van Ert

Incidents involving violence against first responders are on the rise.

For these incidents in which there is a known threat, first responders should have a heightened sense of caution from the beginning. Dispatch can alert us to potential threats and keep us posted regarding locations where there have been problems in the past. Policies and procedures should be in place to address how we interact with law enforcement, the use of appropriate PPE, and places to take cover if the threat escalates. It is vital that we communicate and train with our neighboring fire, EMS and law enforcement agencies so that when these events occur, we have a better understanding of each other’s capabilities and the ability to work with one another in the safest manner possible.

Then there are the seemingly “routine” calls that catch us off guard and force us to react quickly to ensure our safety. We must strive to avoid complacency and tunnel vision, even on a call that seems routine. The responsibility to ensure our safety falls to every member on scene, not just with the company office. Everyone should feel comfortable in the role of a safety officer, even the newest trainee. Always be on the lookout for anything that seems abnormal. If you see something out of the ordinary, say something. Situational awareness is paramount!

Read more about violence against first responders: Shots fired! Near misses highlight unexpected dangers.