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‘Get out!': Firefighter tactical withdrawal

When an incident turns violent, firefighters should be familiar with the process for removing members from the scene

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Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s tip is for my friends in EMS and the fire service. It deals with being prepared to make a tactical withdrawal when needed.

Fire and EMS personnel find themselves in a variety of situations during their response to emergencies.

Some of these incidents can turn violent. Family members, friends, bystanders, or others can become aggressive without warning. This can range from verbal threats to physical attacks to the display or use of weapons.

Preparation is key. You should have an idea about what you will do in advance. It is helpful if your agency has a policy that provides guidance and procedures for tactical withdrawals.

If you identify an unsafe situation you should generally evacuate the area immediately. If possible, you should try to take the patient with you. You should promptly report the unsafe condition over the radio. This ensures that others are aware and prevents them from entering the same dangerous scene you just left.

If your agency does not have a policy for tactical withdrawal, you should suggest or develop one. Then train everyone on the policy and on your procedures. Your personnel should practice performing a tactical withdrawal before they have to do it in the field.

Plan and practice so that you are ready when you need to tactically withdraw from a dangerous scene.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol.

Gordon Graham, signing off.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.