(US DOT) National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Education Standards: Change Training Requirements for EMS regarding violence on the job
Being a victim of a violent crime (where my ambulance was violently car-jacked while I was in the back with a patient) I began to research the subject of how frequent EMT's and Paramedics are assaulted on the job. What I found was shocking. I found that although many states and EMS organizations have conducted research on how frequent EMT's and Paramedics are assaulted on the job, there is still no national change to the training requirement on how to respond (escape from) acts of violence on the job.
For instance in 2005 the National Association of EMT's (NAEMT) released the results of a study showing 52% of EMS providers have been assaulted on the job. Although that number was published on nearly every leading EMS and Fire website, there was no change.
A study completed by Dr. Brian Maguire showed an EMT is 22 times more likely to be assaulted on the job than any other private sector industry.
Just think back to recent events in Georgia where firefighters were held hostage. The suspect, who was later killed by police, was allegedly wanting his public utilities turned back on. Then just prior to that, on Christmas Eve-2012, several firefighters were lured to a location only to be shot and killed.
Those are just a couple of recent cases. I have hundreds and hundreds of stories of EMT's and Paramedics injured from assault on the job...... but it seems like no one cares. The average EMT or Paramedic rapidly become jaded.
There are three major reasons I have found for a lack of change:
1) Lack or recognition of the difference between a "patient" and an attacker. This causes an under-reporting of criminal assault. It also has EMS sometimes erroneously treating patients as attackers (recent media coverage of the Oklahoma medic and Baltimore medic)
2) The Theory it is just "part of the job"
3) Mocking by fellow or senior staff of those who wish to pursue criminal charges. This keeps administrators from fully knowing the extent of the problem.
The current "standard" training unknowingly allows for a culture to exist in pre-hospital emergency medicine that victimization is "part of the job". This culture leads to a lack of reporting of acts of criminal assault on staff. The current training also does not provide a student with much needed critical thinking skills to differentiate between a confused medical patient and an aggressive criminal attacker.
Simple changes in training when a person enters EMT or Paramedic school can prevent assaults from occurring and change the mindset of the EMS provider on prosecuting those who do commit acts of criminal assault.
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