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Double LODD and violent attacks on EMS

Understanding the risks inherent in EMS is critical to taking action to prevent death and injury in the line of duty


Howard County police and rescue workers examine the scene of a fatal accident Thursday, Nov. 18, 2004, on westbound Interstate 70 at U.S. 29 in Ellicott City, Md.

AP Photo/Matt Houston

EMS is a dangerous profession. I know this. You know this. We don’t need recent news to remind us of the top threats facing EMTs and paramedics from ambulance collisions, violent patients and active shooter incidents. But, unfortunately, here we are honoring the loss of two paramedics and acknowledging the constant threat of violence EMS providers are facing on every call.

Double LODD in West Virginia

Paramedics Brittany Young and Ronald Dick II were killed Saturday morning when their ambulance struck a parked semi-trailer parked on the side of the road. The collision is under investigation and hopefully we’ll be able to draw some meaning or lessons learned from their tragic, sudden deaths.

Violent attacks on EMS in Austin

Austin-Travis County EMS paramedics were asked in an internal survey about their experiences with physical or verbal assault. In the last two years, 132 of 210 field paramedics who responded to the survey reported being the victim of physical or verbal assault on duty. The agency acknowledged that this is likely an under-reporting of the danger their providers face because only incidents with injuries are likely to be reported.

Make sure you look at the full results report made available by ATCEMS. Their willingness to disclose these results with the public and their peer agencies is admirable, while the results themselves are worrisome. It’s likely your personnel have the same need for additional training in recognizing violent individuals, escaping a violent encounter, and de-escalating a violent individual.


Findings from the Understanding Assaults on EMS Personnel: City of Austin EMS Department Assault Survey Results/Courtesy ATCEMS

Body armor for Missouri paramedics

Taney County Ambulance District recently announced the purchase of body armor for their EMS personnel. Their announcement led with this undeniable reality, “Assaults on paramedics and first responders over the last several years have been increasing. Violent attacks on paramedics have included the use of firearms and other weapons.”

Employers have an obligation to provide employees with the PPE for predictable and expected hazards. TCAD’s process to purchase and deploy body armor is a road map for other EMS employers to follow:

  • Review and affirm the risk exists
  • Budget for the purchase of body armor
  • Measure and size all personnel
  • Set policies for “must wear” and “can wear” situations
  • Train personnel on body armor policy and care
  • Deploy and maintain body armor

Everyday EMS risk reduction

Gordon Graham is famous for saying, “If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.” Ambulance collisions and violent encounters are predictable. Here are important reminders to reduce risk, and prevent injury or death in the line of duty:

  • On the road, buckle up and slow down
  • Don all employer-provided PPE
  • Add body armor to standard PPE
  • Learn defensive tactics for violent encounters
  • Maintain a heightened situational awareness on every call
  • Ask for and participate in risk management, safety, active shooter and behavioral emergency training

Additional resources for EMS risk reduction

Learn more about preventing EMS injury or LODD with these resources from EMS1:

Tell us what you are doing on every shift and how you focus your training to make sure you get home safe.

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1 and EMS1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on LinkedIn.