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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Can we prevent pranksters from putting lives at risk?

Couple radio jam with difficulty of tracking signals, and the result is frustrating, maddening situation that will be very difficult to resolve

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: Authorities say emergency crews were delayed for eight minutes, possibly factoring into a patient's death, because someone was deliberately jamming radio signals.

Stupid human tricks, continued: Here is another headline about some lunkhead using a radio inappropriately and placing public safety responders at risk.

In the first case, only the rescuers were at risk. In this case, it may have contributed to the death of a patient.

Couple the mishap with the difficulty of tracking radio signals, and the result is a frustrating, maddening situation that will be very difficult to resolve.

Technology solutions are few; I can see some type of radio transmission with a unique ID number that can be traced to a specific device, like a serial number to a gun.

But more realistically, I think this type of behavior should promote the development of procedures that create redundancies even when systems are functioning normally.

Many of us receive our dispatch information via multiple devices, so perhaps a couple of systems can be developed to facilitate better two-way transmissions during the evolution of an incident.

Policies to implement such backup plans can codify procedures so the system can react quickly when time is of the essence.

Regardless of what we need to do to preserve our communications link, there's no excuse for the callous behavior that some folks feel entitled to perform. For a few minutes of what seems to be harmless fun, lives are placed at risk. It's no joke.

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 Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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