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INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC SAFETY ASSOCIATION
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IPSA's Public Safety Column

The IPSA's Public Safety Column is an opportunity for our members and corporate sponsors to provide thought leadership, op-ed articles about all topics facing public safety. The articles we publish are not necessarily the views of the IPSA, rather they are opinions shared by each contributor.


Open call for new contributors to the IPSA's Public Safety Column

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  • 17 Apr 2018 1:26 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    This International Public Safety Association InfoBrief discusses interoperability and unified command. The purpose of this document is to elucidate the fundamental and important principles of interoperability and unified command, suggest rationale as to why the deficiencies continue to exist and finally, to present some strategies for reducing the gap and opportunities for solutions.

    Download the IPSA InfoBrief: Interoperability and Unified Command

    This InfoBrief was authored by several members of the IPSA’s Rescue Task Force Committee. The IPSA’s RTF Committee is committed to advancing the IPSA mission and provides the IPSA guidance in all matters relating to the development, management and training practices of RTFs. The RTF Committee enhances the cooperation and sharing of information between agencies who use RTFs and those exploring the possibility of starting a new RTF program. The RTF Committee publishes documents and articles to assist in the understanding of the benefits, costs and complexities of on-going RTF training and management.

  • 10 Apr 2018 2:45 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    This International Public Safety Association InfoBrief discusses the legal aspects of tactical emergency medical support. 

    Download the IPSA InfoBrief: Legal Aspects of TEMS

    TEMS is integral to SWAT and law enforcement tactical units in providing special operations medicine in a pre-hospital setting. Tactical paramedics deliver point of wounding care in the direct threat, indirect threat and tactical evacuation phases of the austere environment. TEMS teams respond to high threat incidents such as: high-risk warrants, terrorist attacks, active shooter/hostile events and other intentional mass casualty incidents.

    Legal issues surrounding TEMS teams, law enforcement and allied emergency responders need to be fully considered prior to an incident. All agency administrators must have a solid understanding of their legal rights and duties. Once these legal considerations are realized, it is incumbent on them to make sure their personnel (volunteer and paid employees) understand how they should act or respond in any given event.

    The IPSA’s TEMS Committee is committed to advancing the IPSA mission and contributes to the professional development of the public safety community. The IPSA’s TEMS Committee works to establish an all hazards approach and integrated response to public safety emergencies. This InfoBrief was authored by several members of the IPSA’s TEMS Committee.

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  • 06 Apr 2018 11:19 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Jennifer Stewart, Communications Supervisor, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Communications Division, IPSA Board Member and Chair of IPSA’s 911 Telecommunications Committee

    Everyday day thousands of people dial 911. They hear a voice come on the line that asks if they need police, fire or medic. The telecommunicator will then ask the most important question while they have you on the phone – what your address is. Depending on what type of emergency response is needed the telecommunicator will ask more clarifying questions and then both parties disconnect.

    If most 911 calls were that easy we would be living in a perfect world. However, no 911 call is the same. A 911 operator goes from one emergency call to the next and does not get any closure. Each accident, domestic, suspicious person or a noise complaint calls are all different. And then there’s that one call that occurs sometime during a 911 operator’s career that is never forgotten.

    Working in an emergency operations environment

    The job of a 911 operator is not easy. People do not call just to say hello, it is because they have an emergency.

    • A 911 operator is the person who stays on the phone when someone is contemplating suicide and does their best to gain trust with the person until emergency personnel arrive.
    • A 911 operator is the person who homeowners call while they are hiding when someone is breaking into their residence.
    • A 911 operator is the person who a child calls because something is wrong with one of their parents and reassures them they have done the right thing by calling 911.

    Sometimes a 911 operator is yelled or cussed at because the caller is frustrated by all the questions. While being chastised, we have a duty to remain professional and maintain a calm voice. Being a 911 operator is not a thankless job because even if you helped just one person it is worth it.

    Most people can never say they have met a 911 operator so the next time you do meet one tell them thank you. They are often the first voice you hear when you need help.

    About the Author

    Jennifer Stewart is a 15-year veteran with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Communications Division. She is an IPSA Board Member and the Chair of the IPSA’s 911 Telecommunications Committee.


  • 06 Apr 2018 10:43 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Anne Camaro, IPSA 911 Telecommunications Committee Member, Assistant Director of Administration and Training Cambridge Emergency Communications

    As we gear up to celebrate another National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, it is important to pave the way for new telecommunicators as they make their way from the classroom to the communications center. Whether working eight or 12-hour shifts, dispatchers know that no shift is ever like the last one. The uncertainty of the next call, the excitement of the next chase and the relief of the resolution are the only constants. The situations, the names and the people are ever changing in a web of stories that become the reason we choose to stay.

    Ability to adapt

    Having grown up in the boom of technology of the 1990s, I still remember the first time I sat down in front of a DOS based CAD. Having to adapt from mouse clicks to keyboard tabs was no easy task, however, that was the first of many different things I had to adapt to throughout the years. However, not everyone can adapt in the 911 telecommunications profession.

    As communications supervisors recruit new talent and promote from within, one of the most desired qualities in a candidate is adaptability. Most supervisors will not hire or promote someone who demonstrates a resistance or fear to change. Individuals who are hired to work in this profession and then become unwilling or unable to adapt to the ever-changing environment in the communications center, rarely stay. No dispatcher, at least no successful dispatcher, can stay rigid and resist change.

    So how can we become more adaptable? Jennifer Garvey Berger, author of “Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders” describes four steps we can take to become more adaptable. To face change successfully, she states that we must shift our mindset and highlights four tips on how to get started: (1) ask different questions; (2) accept multiple perspectives; (3) consider the bigger picture and (4) experiment and learn.

    Further, Jeff Boss, an adaptability coach, describes an adaptable person as someone who is open to change, who has the will to face uncertainty, and who sees opportunity where others see failure. According to Boss, adaptable people are resourceful and think ahead; they don’t whine, or place blame; and they also don’t claim fame. Adaptable people stay current, are open minded and know what they stand for. A dispatcher who possesses these traits is desirable and will become invaluable to the agency they work for because they are willing and able to go the extra mile.

    Change is scary and complex. It involves coming out of our comfort zone, but if we want to succeed as 911 telecommunicators we must understand that change is part of the job description. It is inevitable. From change, the best 911 telecommunicators learn and thrive. In a field that gets more complex by the minute, a famous quote attributed to Leon C. Megginson’s work regarding Darwin’s “Origin of Species” is valid, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”


  • 06 Apr 2018 7:30 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Ken Wallentine

    In a recent survey, I asked for reader thoughts on meeting the challenge of the active shooter in schools. Thanks to the officers who sent thoughtful responses. Not surprisingly, several respondents suggested placing more officers in schools.

    Here is a snapshot of some other responses:

    • Creating an easier path for retired cops with degrees to become certified teachers.
    • Hiring retired officers as part-time school workers in a variety of positions and co-locating neighborhood policing offices in schools.
    • An adopt an officer program. This officer suggested pairing street cops and detectives with schools that would “adopt” the officer. The officer would be invited as a special guest to assemblies and other events and to eat lunch at the school on a regular basis.
    • Better designs for physical security.
    • Taking advantage of existing locks to provide a single point of entry.
    • Additional training and emphasis on challenging unidentified or suspicious school visitors.

    Virtual reality, active shooter scenario

    I recently participated with dozens of school district executives, school resource officers, principals, vice-principals and counselors in a series of school shooting scenarios. The virtual reality system allowed us to experience an active school shooter scenario in penetrating virtual reality, using actual weapons and feeling the impact of gunfire. At the end of each virtual reality session, we gathered cops and educators to debrief. Ideas and questions flowed freely. Conversations that began in virtual reality will continue as partnerships strengthen.

    Safety apps

    I learned about programs that help students report concerns and/or reach out for help. The best of these is a smartphone app called SafeUT. It is a resource for students, parents and educators. Students and parents can submit tips, chat with a qualified mental health professional, make an immediate one-button call for help and monitor existing tips and helpful hints for safety and well-being. Other states are creating similar apps.

    Just last week, a middle school student in my community threatened to shoot up his school. Classmates who heard the threat said something and used the SafeUT app. A cop went to the home and spoke with parents and the student. He and his partner searched the kid’s bedroom and found an AR-15 and a handgun. The app, powered by students willing to say something, worked. Mass shooting prevented? Probably.

    Broadening the discussion

    The conversations about safer schools and safer kids are happening across the country. These discussions need to include local public safety officers, teachers and parents. Those conversations need to be far broader than just hardening the targets. Let’s join the community in talking about prevention. Let’s be sure that our departments and schools are social media smart. Are we watching out for and reaching the kids who signal trouble? Are our schools fostering an emotionally healthy environment? Are there safe places and trusted people for kids who are bullied, abused or emotionally struggling?

    Preparedness

    As public safety servants, we prepare tirelessly for many events that will never happen in our community. With the violence at Parkland and Great Mills, the focus right now is on school shootings.

    We must prepare the best we can. In our sheriffs’ offices and police departments, let’s talk about something that we know about: threat assessment. When we get a tip, do we have a system in place to quickly bring a school official, mental health professional, school resource officer, and—as appropriate—parent or guardian together for a risk analysis and intervention plan?

    Our preparations will necessarily lead to deeper connections with educators, parents, kids and our entire community. Our preventive efforts will pay off, too. As we stretch our reach to kids on the fringe, we may or may not prevent a school killer, but we may just make life better for a lonely kid.

    There is a genuine compassion and commitment among public safety officials to keeping our communities safe. Your communities need your critical conversation contributions.

    About the Author

    Chief Ken Wallentine is a Special Agent who directs the Utah Attorney General Training Center, overseeing use of force training and investigation and cold case homicide investigations. He is also a consultant and Senior Legal Advisor for Lexipol. Ken formerly served as Chief of Law Enforcement for the Utah Attorney General, serving over three decades in public safety before a brief retirement. He also serves as the Chairman of the Peace Officer Merit Commission of Greater Salt Lake County.


  • 29 Mar 2018 2:12 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    The IPSA created this new Scene Safety infographic for free download, printing and sharing. 


  • 28 Mar 2018 3:30 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By James Dundas, IPSA Memorial Committee Chair

    Duty. Honor. Courage. Noble words to live and serve by. The epitome of those words was sadly reinforced recently as the public safety community of practice lost seven brave souls in the line of duty. In the one week from March 21 to March 28, 2018, the United States has averaged the loss one first responder per day.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2018: Police Officer Andres Laza-Caraballo (age 31) of the Juncos Municipal Police Department in Puerto Rico was shot while off duty when attempting to intercede in a violent incident. Officer Laza-Caraballo confronted armed men when they entered a barber shop and began firing. Officer Laza-Caraballo was fatally wounded. He was a 10-year veteran of the department. He leaves behind two children.

    Thursday, March 22, 2018: FDNY Firefighter Michael Davidson (age 37), a 15-year veteran, husband and father of four girls, died in a fire on a movie set in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem. Part of an interior attack crew, FF Davidson became separated from the others when an evacuation was called. Search teams were quickly assembled and re-entered the building in a desperate attempt to locate FF Davidson. When found, FF Davidson was unconscious. He was transported to Harlem Hospital where he died.

    Also on Thursday, March 22, 2018, in York City, Pennsylvania, FF Ivan Flanscha (age 50) and FF Zachary Anthony (age 29) perished in a huge multiple alarm fire in the former Weaver Organ and Piano Warehouse. FF’s Flanscha and Anthony were part of an interior crew dousing hot spots when a part of the structure collapsed, entrapping them and other members. The York City Technical Rescue team was brought in to lead the search, but unfortunately, both Flanscha and Anthony did not survive.  Two others, Assistant Chief Greg Altland and FF Erik Swanson received serious, but not expected to be life threatening injuries.

    In what is becoming a more frequent and tragic consequence of exposure to hazardous substances, Special Agent Melissa Morrow (age 48) of the FBI succumbed to brain cancer on March 22, 2018, because of her search and recovery work at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. She worked 10 weeks on site, and like many first responders, fell from continuous, long-term exposure to toxins. She is survived by her parents and one sister.

    Friday, March 23, 2018: The Caldwell County Office of Emergency Management reported that FF Larry Marusik of the Ellinger Volunteer Fire Department succumbed to critical burn injuries sustained on March 10 while fighting a large wildland fire. He had been under treatment at the Brook Army Medical Center.  

    Saturday, March 24, 2018: We saw the deaths of two Pratt, West Virginia, volunteer firefighters who died in a crash of their apparatus when responding to a severe multi-fatality traffic accident. Preliminary reports show that their rig left the roadway and crashed into a rock wall. Three other firefighters were injured, one critically.  

    While it is premature to speculate on causal factors of these tragedies this past week, there are some practices that the public safety community may acknowledge that may help prevent a future tragedy from occurring. These recommendations were pulled from the IPSA’s 2017 LODD Report:

    1.  Improve situational awareness. The key is situational awareness and the responder wearing the proper protective gear for the environment where he or she is responding. Situational awareness is enhanced when 9-1-1 dispatchers inquire about the circumstances and environment and report their findings to responding units.

    2. Implement practices to reduce contamination. All agencies should assess their risks based upon their unique response profile and adopt policies that reduce the risk of contamination. This would include the adoption of operational practices such as mandatory post-fire decontamination, cleansing of PPE, carrying contaminated PPE in sealed bags and assessing personnel for exposure.

    3.  Always wear a seatbelt. Empirical research shows that wearing a seatbelt will save lives. First responders need to buckle up, despite any temporary discomfort duty gear may impose.

    4.  Enhance body armor by decreasing its weight and increasing flexibility, provide for more coverage, and enhance it ballistics, shielding capabilities. Body armor should protect vital areas against any form of penetration, whether a projectile from a firearm or a penetrating object intended to stab the officer. A proposed revision of NIJ Standard 0101.06, Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor is open for comment through May 23, 2018.

    5.  Increase firearms training. Law enforcement officers are required to undergo a certain number of hours of firearms training. Unfortunately, the time allotted for training is generally very limited and does not correlate to the volume of gun violence in the U.S. Departments need to review their training hours and add training hours to keep their officers safe.

    Related Content

    IPSA's Report about 2017 Line of Duty Deaths

    Join the IPSA’s Memorial Committee

     


  • 21 Mar 2018 11:02 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    The IPSA Executive Director's Policy Task Force developed a series of InfoBriefs on Homegrown Violent Extremism. The IPSA encourages you to download, review and share these documents with your professional network. 



    To learn more about the Policy Task Force and to get involved with future projects, visit our Policy Task Force webpage


  • 14 Mar 2018 12:50 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    First responders experience extreme physical demands, often in hazardous environments. Many tragedies occur suddenly and without warning. Gunshot wounds, building collapses, vehicular accidents, assaults and other causal factors contribute to untimely deaths in our emergency response community. Further, first responders face several threats to occupational related diseases such as cancer and cardiorespiratory related maladies. Law enforcement, firefighting and rescue activities are inherently dangerous occupations. Since the year 2000, the data reviewed accounts for the loss of 2,841 law enforcement officers, 1,937 fire and EMS personnel and 233 K9s.

    Download the IPSA's Report about 2017 Line of Duty Deaths

    The International Public Safety Association Memorial Committee was established to monitor line of duty deaths to honor the supreme sacrifice of our brave and heroic first responders and to review LODD data for trends, patterns and anomalies so the IPSA can develop recommended policies and changes that improve safety. If you are interested in getting involved with the IPSA's Memorial Committee, then apply to serve today.



  • 09 Mar 2018 9:06 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    The IPSA's Mental Health Committee created a series of Posters for free download, printing and sharing. We encourage you to print these and post them in your departments. Simply click on the image to download the .PDF file.




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