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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

EMS inspiration from IAFC Safety Week

The International Association of Fire Chief's annual Safety Week provides a perfect opportunity for EMS systems to look at their own safety protocols

By Arthur Hsieh

This week, the International Association of Fire Chiefs is sponsoring its annual Safety Week, where leaders are calling for all departments to "stand down" from their routine daily operations and focus on health and safety issues.

While I believe that every week is "safety week," I like the concept of a formal review and analysis of all safety practices within an organization.

There is one statement in the press release that grabs my attention:

"Firefighters don't plan to be lost, disoriented, injured or trapped during a structure fire or emergency incident. But fires are unpredictable and volatile, and they will not always go according to plan."

This can easily be translated to:

"EMS providers don't plan to be injured or killed during a routine or emergency response. But EMS calls are unpredictable and volatile, and they will not always go according to plan."

We need to ensure that we do all we can to reduce the risks from the job. Where are your practices today in regards to the following areas?

  • Personal protective equipment
  • Driving habits
  • Use of safety equipment while in the rig
  • Situational awareness sizeup
  • Proper disposal of contaminated supplies
  • Highway operations
  • Training

I am sure there are many more areas where it's easy to take safety issues for granted. Where else might you promote better safety practices?

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
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