Cops vs. FFs vs. EMS: Can't we all just get along?

Scene calls can be chaotic, especially when multiple agencies are involved

Scene calls can be chaotic, especially when multiple agencies are involved. We all know that clear and constant communication among responders is crucial, but it's easy to overlook when the situation becomes stressful.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when dealing with personnel from other agencies:

1. Everyone has a job to do. Sometimes the jobs conflict with each other, which is stressful all-around. Before getting into an argument on scene, quickly weigh the urgency and priority of the tasks at hand.

If the medical condition of the patient is critical, make it known clearly but respectfully. If not, consider whether the situation may be not as safe as you assume or that other, more pressing issues must be managed first.

2. Pre-communications, in the form of policies, should establish general protocol when managing events. Such policies might take into account factors like locations (e.g., highways versus city streets) and hazards (such as hazardous materials, fires and violence).

Make sure the policies are distributed and understood among the field staff.

3. When on scene, make sure that requests and orders are heard clearly and understood, even if it takes a few extra moments. If you're not sure, repeat back as if you were on the radio.

And if you disagree, go back up, and see point no. 1.

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor 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

  1. Tags
  2. Communications / Dispatch

Recommended Communications / Dispatch

Join the discussion