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INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC SAFETY ASSOCIATION
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Blog

We are proud to announce a new Blog for 2023. Below is our editorial calendar for the year. This is a great opportunity to publish with us and reach a diverse and global public safety audience. We will periodically share our blog articles on social media and in newsletters. 

To submit an article, email our editor to request our guidelines and indicate (1) the month and (2) topic you would like to address in your article. Note that not all articles received will be published. 

Start the process of being published today by following these three required steps: 

  1. Email a request to receive our guidelines to info@joinipsa.org
  2. Include the Month you would like to publish
  3. Include the Topic you would like to address

Due to our high volume of emails, please allow 5-10 business days for our editor to respond. 

For Sponsored Content (see the instructions below editorial calendar)


2023 Editorial Calendar

January

  • Law Enforcement
  • Fire Service
  • EMS
  • Sponsored Content

February

  • Active Shooter
  • Integrated Response
  • Unified Command
  • Sponsored Content
  • Active Shooter
  • Integrated Response
  • Unified Command

March

  • Emergency Management
  • 911 Telecommunications
  • Healthcare
  • Sponsored Content

April

  • Mental Health 
  • Fitness
  • Wellness
  • Sponsored Content

May

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes
  • Wildfires
  • Sponsored Content

June

  • Leadership
  • Terrorism/Counterterrorism
  • Legislative/Legal Analysis
  • Sponsored Content

July

  • Scene Safety
  • LODDs
  • Education
  • Sponsored Content

August

  • Active Shooter
  • Integrated Response
  • Unified Command
  • Sponsored Content

September

  • Technology
  • Cybersecurity
  • UAS/Drones
  • Sponsored Content

October

  • Recruitment/Retention
  • Promotions
  • Small/Rural/Volunteer
  • Sponsored Content

November

  • Leadership
  • Terrorism/Counterterrorism
  • Legislative/Legal Analysis
  • Sponsored Content

December

  • Mental Health
  • Fitness
  • Wellness
  • Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content is available monthly to small, medium, and large organizations on public safety relevant topics for $500 USD per article. All Sponsored Content must adhere to our guidelines. To request additional information, email us at info@joinipsa.org. 

Blog Articles

  • 11 Jan 2023 9:09 AM | IPSA (Administrator)

    By Gregory L. Walterhouse

    What is benchmarking? Simply stated, benchmarking are points of reference from which measurements are made. There are several types of benchmarking, the first being corporate style benchmarking, predicated on the belief that superior results are the product of best practices that can be emulated from others. The second type is visioning initiatives whereby a vision is established leading to the creation of results-oriented targets. Visioning initiatives are like strategic planning. The third type of benchmarking, and the focus for this article is the comparison of performance statistics. In this type of benchmarking, an organization compares their own statistics to either national standards or data sets from other similar organizations.

    Benchmarking can identify top performers within a data set and highlight relative strengths and weaknesses within an organization but does not identify best practices. However, there are some challenges to benchmarking. Relative to the public sector, the inconsistency in the ways that municipalities measure and report their data can make benchmarking challenging. Another challenge is turning benchmarking data into actions to improve service. This will require data-driven decision-making and transitioning from traditional models of service delivery to more innovative models, in other words, change, which is often difficult for some, particularly in the fire service to embrace.  

    Another challenge is the interpretation of data. For example, a higher cost per incident rather than a lower cost may seem counter intuitive. Nevertheless, a city that has fewer incidents will have a higher cost, perhaps because prevention efforts receive more funding indicating a more efficient use of available funds. One report suggests that comparing one fire department to another may not be the most accurate metric due to different demographics and that comparing response service to prevention service within the same agency may provide a more accurate measure of efficiency.

    Benefits of benchmarking
    Several benefits can result from benchmarking. First, benchmarking helps develop standardized metrics against which a department can evaluate their performance. Second, benchmarking assists in developing performance expectations for the department. Next, benchmarking helps establish a culture of continuous improvement for fire departments and provides a basis for department administrators to identifying and correct performance gaps. As elected officials are becoming more data driven, benchmarking can provide the data needed to support budget and staffing requests, equipment purchases, and new or expanded programs. Benchmarking is also a useful tool when developing strategic plans.

    National standards
    The National Fire Protection Association “Standard (1710) for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments” provides national consensus standard metrics that departments can use for self-evaluation.

    NFPA “Standard (1720) for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Departments” provides similar metrics for volunteer and on-call fire departments. Some examples of standardized metrics contained within the NFPA standards include alarm processing time, turnout time, travel time, total response time, staffing and more.

    Another of several examples is NPFA “Standard (1410) on Training for Initial Emergency Scene Operations.” This standard provides required performance metrics for deploying hand lines, master streams, automatic sprinkler system support, and truck company operations. Bearing in mind that national standards are minimum standards of performance, comparing a department’s performance to similarly situated departments at the regional, state or national level may be more informative regarding efficiency of operations.

    Data
    Compiling a data set for comparison is complex, as well as time, and labor-intensive. Employing an existing data set will simplify the process of benchmarking.

    One source is the ICMA that offers free open access benchmarking that is a software-neutral data set with over 20,000 data points that facilitates comparing local government performance metrics. ICMA’s benchmarking service focuses on key performance indicators, with corresponding definitions. Some examples of operational performance indicators for fire and EMS include total BLS and ALS responses, average response times, total expenditures for fire/EMS personnel and operations, percentage of residential fires confined to object or room of origin, and percentage of cardiac patients with pulsatile rhythms upon delivery to a hospital.

    Demographic performance indicators include, residential population served, square miles served, median household income, percentage of population below the poverty level, percentage of vacant housing units, respondent ratings of fire service quality and more.

    There are also performance indicators related to fire service human resources including, hours paid including overtime, sick leave hours used, turnover rates, and worker’s compensation days lost due to injury. 

    Though less focused compared to the ICMA data set, the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) at the U.S. Fire Administration offers a free data set of more than two million fire incidents annually. The data sets are available on CD by request and include categories of all incidents, fire incidents and fire and hazardous materials incidents. Though the data will facilitate a comparison to national data, it is not conducive to making comparisons to individual departments. Users of this data must also be aware that participation in NFIRS is not mandatory and therefore is not a complete census of all fire incidents and NFIRS is prone to reporting errors, though the National Fire Data Center performs internal quality checks to identify and correct errors. 

    Third parties
    With many departments struggling with reduce staffing and budget constraints, finding the time and resources to perform benchmarking can be challenging.

    One solution is a benchmarking analysis performed by a third party. The Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI), which is the consulting arm of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), has teamed with ISO to produce the Community Fire Service Performance Review for Structural Fire Protection. This is a peer-review benchmark analysis that fire departments and municipalities can use to make comparisons. The review compares a department to 15-25 accurate peer organizations along with regional and national averages based on 32 data points. ISO compiles the points into four main sections: emergency communications, fire services, water systems, and community risk reduction. The focus of this third party benchmarking analysis is narrower in scope focusing on how departments can improve their ISO Public Protection Classification rating. 

    Summary
    In summary, benchmarking is important to the fire service. As data is increasingly driving decision-making in the public sector, comparing fire service delivery to both national standards and similarly situated municipalities is critical to providing cost effective and efficient service. Benchmarking identifies areas of needed improvement, strengths, and helps restore trust in government by using data to make decisions and uncovering innovative ways to elevate performance. Benchmarking also provides information that may lead to mid-course adjustments or terminating programs that are not producing intended outcomes. Data-driven decision-making leads to greater accountability and transparency, encourages continuous improvement and improves consistency.

  • 11 Jan 2023 9:05 AM | IPSA (Administrator)

    By Gregory L. Walterhouse

    Over the past year there have been calls for rethinking and reimagining policing in the United States. There have been calls for defunding thus de-staffing of law enforcement agencies, decriminalization of various offenses and completely abolishing police departments.

    Unintended outcomes in law enforcement are often associated with human error, which is inevitable and is the difference between a desired or planned state and actual state. Since human error will occur countermeasures are necessary and Crew Resource Management (CRM) can provide such a countermeasure by helping to avoid errors, trapping errors when they do occur and mitigating the consequences of errors that are not trapped. 

    What is CRM?
    In short, CRM is a decision-making model for high-risk situations. CRM is a management system using all means available including equipment and personnel to improve safety.

    • The first step is to recognize that a problem exists.

    • Second, is to define the problem.

    • Third, identify possible solutions to the problem.

    • Fourth, take appropriate action to implement a solution.

    The overarching goal of CRM is to identify human error and make necessary corrections before the error results in an accident. Some of the skills associated with CRM include coordinated two-way communication, decision-making, shared situational awareness, workload management, leadership and teamwork. The objective of CRM is to improve safety through training to optimize performance and the use of the team concept.

    History
    Due to increasing commercial aircraft complexity, and the rising number of accidents, most the result of human error, CRM was developed in 1980 in the airline industry. CRM was initially designed for flight crews, but eventually included flight attendants and air traffic controllers. At least one study
    found that joint CRM training sessions comprising both flight attendants and pilots together, increased positive teamwork behaviors, and broke down communication barriers in finding solutions to in-flight emergency scenarios. CRM has since been used in a number of industries including in maritime, railroads, health care including surgical and anesthesiology teams, the military, helicopter air ambulance operations, dentistry, pharmacy and firefighting.

    Does CRM work?
    As to the efficacy of CRM, one study found that in the health care industry, CRM resulted in a return on investment of between $9.1 and $24.4 million from avoidable patient safety events.

    Another study found that surgical outcomes and safety culture improved after CRM was implemented in a pediatric surgical department. After CRM was implement in a hospital intensive care unit, a three year study found a significant reduction in serious complications and lower mortality in critically ill patients.

    An additional study from health care found that CRM training of trauma resuscitation staff, resulted in improved behavior and communication, resulting in enhanced patient safety and by inference reduction of errors.

    The United States Coast Guard reports a 74 percent reduction in injuries since implementing CRM.

    From the fire service a series of workshops found that CRM was a worthy model to pursue for wildland firefighting.

    Finally, a specific success story from aviation is the successful landing of U.S. Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River which Captain Sullenberger attributed to both his experience and CRM training.

    Law enforcement application
    Law enforcement officers are called upon to continually make decisions. Often these decisions are high-risk, and must be made in complex high-stress situations. There are also instances where it is alleged that officers fail to intervene when a fellow officer allegedly violates a victim's Constitutional rights including the use of excessive force. It’s in these types of situations, and others, where CRM could help avoid or trap errors thereby reducing unintended consequences of law enforcement interactions with the public.

    One author suggests that human error is often not a singular mistake, but a product of the environment the actor is working in. Granted, law enforcement officers at times must make split second decisions while other encounters with the public evolve over a matter of minutes lending themselves to application of CRM training. It is critical that first responders, including law enforcement officers, work as a team in these types of incidents, which is the cornerstone of CRM. Yet, CRM has not been widely implemented in public safety organizations including law enforcement.

    CRM focuses on human factors being the source of errors as well as being the best source of avoiding errors. CRM can help law enforcement agencies mitigate undesired outcomes and unintended consequences by focusing on teamwork, communication and theoretical background knowledge. Team work competencies include, leadership, workload management and adaptability. Communication competencies include, professionalism, efficiency and reflection. Theoretical background knowledge includes, shared situational awareness and decision making, reducing human error and stress management.

    One concern law enforcement may have with CRM is that it circumvents the traditional chain of command. However, this is not the intent of CRM. Rather CRM promotes team member input while preserving authority. This is consistent with the National Incident Management System (NIMS), under which all law enforcement agencies should currently be operating. Under NIMS, safety is the responsibility of all team members, where any team member regardless of rank, has the responsibility to clearly advocate their position if they disagree with an intended action. CRM builds and expands upon this concept. While this may require a culture change in some law enforcement agencies, it is a crucial change. A culture that supports the assertiveness of all team members regardless of rank or stature, to voice their concerns when they see something going wrong is foundational to implementation of CRM.

    Summary
    Abolishing, defunding, and de-staffing the police is not the answer. Reimagining and rethinking policing are vague concepts that fail to offer a solution. These are uninformed reactions by politicians and vocal special interest groups, many of whom are not supporters of law enforcement. Law enforcement administrators are best situated and informed to improve outcomes and minimize unintended consequences of interactions between law enforcement and the public. CRM offers a viable solution to avoid, capture and mitigate human error and minimize unintended outcomes of law enforcement interaction with the public. CRM needs to be implemented by all law enforcement agencies.  

  • 11 Jan 2023 8:45 AM | IPSA (Administrator)

    By Brendalyn Val Bilotti

    Tactical Medicine is a rapidly growing area in law enforcement. This focus on advanced pre-hospital medicine in a tactical or austere environment is the result of the current risks associated with law enforcement activities and the ever-growing war on terrorism. Furthermore, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has released the “2017 Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted” report online. This report states that 60,211 officers assaulted while performing their duties. They also reported that 46 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty, as well as an additional 47 law enforcement officers died as the result of accidents that occurred in the line of duty.

    As TEMS (Tactical Emergency Medical Support) has grown in popularity, so have the number of programs offering instruction for this specialty. The challenge has been in the varied ways these programs are conducted. With a lack of a nationwide standardized competency-based program, such as is used with Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS), the programs that do exist are producing a wide range of understanding, capabilities, and expectations of performance.

    One of the most challenging areas of establishing consistent delivery of TEMS resources is the significant variation that TEMS providers come from. Due to the nature of the physical demands of the tactical environment as well as the increased risk to the provider, TEMS providers are almost always volunteers. They are physicians, physician assistants, nurses, paramedics and EMT's. The problem arises not just in their scope of practice and what they can do, but also the autonomy with which they are able to provide this support. A physician may act independently, but a nurse and physician's assistant need to operate under the auspices of a physician. Paramedics and EMT's can only provide care within the state guidelines, and must also be certified by the local county to provide this care.

    Given the variation in what care is provided, the questions that individual departments need to ask include:

    1. What competencies are required of each TEMS operator? The basis for most trauma care is adapted or adopted from The Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care, and The Committee on Emergency Casualty Care outlines the best practices for trauma care in a tactical environment. It is not all inclusive of all the needs of a law enforcement operation. In addition, the California Emergency Medical Services Agency (CAEMSA) and Police Officer Standardized Training (POST) have released a collaborative “Guidelines for Tactical Medicine.” It is from this position a course can be developed for all deputies, and from that course, advanced courses can quickly grow.

    2. Medical equipment should each operator carry? As in any job, the tools you take with you dictate how much one can accomplish while completing the job assigned to you. To have impractical tools, impractical tools or the wrong tools not only inhibit but impedes mission completion. Therefore, deciding what tools a TEMS operator carries indicates how independent they are and how effective they are while providing medical care. Equipment including tourniquets, chemical hemorrhagic control agents, pressure dressing and airway support equipment all need to be evaluated.

    3. How often should each TEMS operator be required to perform these skills in a training environment? Professional licenses and certifications have to be renewed every 2-6 years, depending on a provider’s level of training and licensure. No standard currently exists for tactical medicine. It is well documented that skill degradation occurs without practice, and this area needs to be addressed. Insight for this can be garnered from air ambulance programs, which have a broad scope of practice and regimented training schedules. This would include a focus on the non-medically trained patrol officer who is on the front line of any law enforcement activity, from a traffic stop to those whose job puts them at greatest threat, such as Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) or Special Response Unit (SRU).

    Licensing
    Licensed professionals have a scope of practice defined and often limited by the licensing body. Example are the American Medical Association (AMA), California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN), and the CAEMSA as defined by Title 22 of the State of California, as well as the First Responder course which is a non-licensed certification whose scope of practice is defined by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT).

    These licensing and certification bodies have standards of practice, assessments, procedures and tests that each level of licensure is required to prove competence in through written and skills testing — providing certification at each level: Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS; for a contracted and trained EMT/paramedic/nurse, providing care under fire in the hot zone) and the Tactical Medical Doctor (TMD; for the physician serving as the tactical team's medical director and medical team leader). With these different and well-defined levels of care, both the tactical team leader, the medical team leader and all tactical team members have clear expectations of services provided at each level, thereby furthering legitimization of the TEMS and TMD providers and their integration into the tactical program and environment.

    Training 
    When inquiries have been made of law enforcement officers regarding the tactical medicine courses they have taken, one similar concern was voiced: programs seemed to be often geared toward medical personnel with no law enforcement or military background, and not toward experienced law enforcement officers. This subtle yet profound difference means that many program's curricula include topics such as weapons, tactics and range time. Officers stated they did not need nor want these topics because these were covered in their academies, SWAT schools and were governed by their specific agency's policies. Some programs did not delineate between licensed and not licensed students, and students attended classes in skills that they could never use.

    Suggestions included the following:

    • Develop a visionary and forward-thinking curriculum that approaches the topic of tactical medicine from the view of law enforcement officers.
    • Law enforcement leaders need to be at the forefront in advocating for and ensuring that the expertise, training, and equipment to support our first line of defense is available.
    • Law enforcement agencies need to define the qualification requirements for all officers.
    • Periodic formal and informal meetings among law enforcement and medical leaders are essential for unit cohesion and clear communication before an incident.
    The suggestions listed above provide a useful framework for creating a Tactical Medicine Program for law enforcement.

    On a micro-level, this provides the law enforcement community an alternative to the currently available method of having an ambulance on standby unavailable to provide immediate casualty care, thereby delaying care to wounded officers, civilians or suspects.

    On a global scale, this type of program provides incredibly valuable alternatives to current training programs that are tactical and weapons focused in training, and further providing a medically focused and competency-based program, as opposed to one based only in theory or one that his focused on licensed personnel with an advanced scope of practice.  It is essential to convey the importance of offering a quality standard based curriculum that includes a specific performance-based standard that is divided by the performance level of function.

    The publication concluded with several additional recommendations. The following is a summary of several of the key recommendations provided for law enforcement:

    • Law enforcement needs to learn more about the available resources of the communities they serve as well as the capabilities of other agencies involved in emergency response.
    • Law enforcement leaders must develop relationships and networks with medical and EMS agencies before a crisis occurs.
    • Law enforcement leaders must assure a strong institutional commitment to officer safety and providing resource allocation to provide the necessary skills and equipment.
    The information in the publication was comprehensive and covered a breadth of information. This article covers just a few of the specific decisions that each agency must make. Just like corporate culture, each agency defines the roles and responsibilities of its officers, as well as expectations of basic training standards and operational expectations.

    The information provided in this article is intended as a starting point for law enforcement and medical leaders to develop a collaborative, proactive and problem-solving approach to combat future knowledge deficits and ensure a well-trained and well equipped first line of defense.

    This basic outline provides a solid starting point for developing a tactical medical program. As this program becomes developed and the instructor cadre solidifies, a program can be expanded to teach all law enforcement self-aid and buddy aid. These skills reduce the severity and long-term impact of the line of duty injuries.

    An individual who has completed a Tactical Medicine training program may or may not be competent to perform any number of medical procedures. Issues such as licensure, state and county laws, and the broad background that TEMS operators come from, beginning at the certified First Responder, including licensed personnel such as EMT's, paramedics and nurses, and ending by encompassing the physician level make the solutions complex. Currently, a certificate is not a validation of competence. It is this gap that should be addressed and with current movements toward standardization. In the article “Tactical Medicine-Competency-Based Guidelines” the framework to develop a standardized program is outlined.

    It is from this launching point that a program can be used to develop a program. With slight modification, it can be offered to other affiliated public safety agencies, such as fire departments, the county contracted ambulance provider. A program is unique in the provision of medical care in the tactical environment geared towards experienced law enforcement officers and experienced medical providers.

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