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Home > Topics > Communications / Dispatch
June 19, 2012
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Swatting pranks: Not so funny to EMS

These hoaxes might be indicative of changes in how people view public safety services

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: The latest hoax on the Coast Guard could be part of a growing trend that puts first responders at risk.

You have to love how some folks apparently have so much time and technology on their hands that pulling off large-scale hoaxes risking the safety of first responders is just another way of having fun.

Not content to simply pull a fire alarm or dial 911, today's prankster needs to have the government spend hundreds of thousands of scarce dollars on fake service calls.

Yeah, I'm kind of mad about it. The job is tough enough as it is, given the lack of resources most of us are experiencing.

These hoaxes might be indicative of a change in the way the public views its public safety services. Our law enforcement partners have been under scrutiny for a long time, but fire and EMS responders have been mostly untouched.

I worry that with the current debate about public pensions and benefits of public servants in a recession, people feel freer to beat on us.

Of course, EMS folks as a rule are not paid well, nor do they receive significant benefits, so that frustration is a bit misguided.

In any case, I hope that these folks are caught and prosecuted. What might be fun and simple to them puts us at risk and throws away precious resources.

Maybe the prankster in question has $90,000 to reimburse the costs. Now, that would be fun.

About the author

EMS1 Editor in Chief Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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