Protecting EMS and What That Means
I have been seeing a lot of chatter on social media and reading quite a bit about ambulance services issuing ballistic vests and providers being allowed to arm themselves. Looking at the available data, consider the following:
- 67% (95% CI = 63.7%–69.5%) of respondents reported that either they or their partner had been cursed at or threatened by a patient;
- 45% (95% CI = 42.4%–48.3%) had been punched, slapped, or scratched and 41% (95% CI = 37.9%–43.7%) were spat upon;
- Four percent (95% CI = 2.8%–5.0%) of the respondents reported that they or their partner had even been stabbed or involved in an attempted stabbing; and
- 4% (95% CI = 2.5%–4.8%) reported being shot or involved in a shooting attempt by a patient.” (Oliver & Levine, 2014, para. 22).
When looking at the survey results, specifically the low percentages of violent activities, it would appear that such protections are not needed. However, I cannot support the notion that a provider feels that where they work this protection is essential to them. I think a closer, more current look with a larger sample will create a better perspective. This study is relatively small and would be better served if the questions were more focused.
When it comes to “arming EMS Providers” I do think we are far from that. To arm EMS Providers would certainly require specific training, educational classes, and buy in from legislators.
Consider what happens if I defend myself. Am I now obligated to treat the person I’ve harmed? Would I, should I, be held to the same standard of trying to deescalate a situation as the police? With the absence of training and ambiguity of the legal system, I do not think arming EMS providers at this point is the answer.
To me, we need better education, better perceptions from the general public, and most of all a unified EMS front at the national level that is tasked with moving our industry toward the 22nd century.
Scott F. McConnell is Vice President of EMS Education for OnCourse Learning and one of the Founders of Distance CME. Since its inception in 2010, more than 10,000 learners worldwide have relied on Distance CME to recertify their credentials. Scott is a true believer in sharing not only his perspectives and experiences but also those of other providers in educational settings.
Oliver, A., & Levine, R. (2014). Workplace Violence: A Survey of Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Services Professionals