Rapid Response: What we must learn from the FDNY EMT brutally beaten by a patient

Training and experience are instrumental to keeping EMTs, paramedics safe from violent attacks

Since I was a teenager; a bright-eyed, brand new EMT on an ambulance running 911 calls in the County of Los Angeles in the latter 1980s, it was difficult to grasp the notion that someone would want to harm the only people there to help. The veterans all warned me, but it just made no sense.  

Now, three decades later, it still defies reason, but the reality of the dangers faced by EMS providers everywhere is crystal clear and as daunting as ever – if not more so.  

While the prism through which I see EMS and my contribution to the industry are very different than when I was running calls, my respect and concern for those who do this job are stronger than ever. I was sickened to read about the FDNY EMT who was beaten and significantly injured by a patient in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital. 

For nearly a dozen years, I have worked to teach EMS providers and agencies about various ways to use the law in their own defense; how to use the law to keep providers – and patients – safe. However, in real life, no law can protect a provider from a perpetrator bent on engaging in violence. Bullets, blades and clenched fists go right through the paper upon which laws are written. Provider safety is a physical and constant endeavor, and vigilance is the only way to ensure it. 

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