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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 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.

  • 28 Aug 2017 1:05 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Michael Carr, IPSA TEMS Committee Member

    Paperwork, is a necessity to our existence. We have protocols, standard operating procedures, treatment reports, narcotic logs and training logs. Not only do policies help streamline our operations and keep our agencies organized, but they also help protect us from a legal perspective. This article highlights some standard protocols and SOPS, and it also asks key questions that your agency must start addressing.

    Protocols: Do you only use the local hospital protocols? What about specific SWAT equipment such as hemostatic agents, dental emergencies, light suturing or even being able to numb prior to suturing? Some local protocols don’t cover tourniquet placement. What about giving a team member a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for a sore back or some acetaminophen for a headache? Don’t ever assume your Medical Director will authorize this, make sure any skill done is written in your protocol. 

    SOPs: If you are fire department-based or ambulanced-based, contact your chief and discuss any special rules, legislation and needs of the team. Items to discuss include such as call in while on duty, weapons on station and staffing while at training. Again, any need or want outside of the department’s standard operating procedures needs to be documented. 

    Treatment Reports: Are you going to do any paperwork for the treatment of a team member? This is a policy discussion to have between you and your EMS Chief, Fire Chief, Medical Director and Team Commander. 

    I use an individual treatment form in which I describe the injury or illness, treatment and how the patient reacted. Once completed, the form is presented to another TEMS provider who audits the report, signs it and places it in a secured file. This system can be audited for both my reports security and content of the reports by the Medical Director or my EMS Chief from the Fire Department. Any treatment to a person outside of the Team must be documented according to my Fire Department SOG’s like a regular 911 EMS call.  

    Narcotic logs: Narcotic logs should be self-explanatory. However, if you don’t carry any Narcotics – ask yourself why or why not.

    Here’s a scenario to consider. There’s a call out to a drug house and a 34-year old male stripped naked, was acting weird and was combative, diaphoretic. Once the subject was placed prone and in handcuffs he goes into cardiac arrest - maybe it’s from excited delirium. Or maybe the subject has needles on him and an officer is stuck with a needle. Ketamine, a narcotic, in these circumstances could possibly save a life or two. Why? Do your research.   

    Whether your team has the option to use narcotics or not isn’t the point. The point is for you to always do research to see if there are different treatments, equipment and tactics that can better your system. 

    Training logs: Now, training logs can be used in a few different ways. They can provide proof of training that was accomplished and documentation of trainings that were taught.

    If your TEMS unit is not teaching officers self-aid or buddy-aid at every training, then you are truly doing an injustice to your team. These training logs also will show the officers have been trained and tested for retention and competency in the skills being taught.

    Another way to think of training logs is to consider them as production logs. A TEMS leader should consider writing a letter to the Team Commander outlining the year’s productivity to show the value of the TEMS program. At a minimum, the following should be captured in the training log:

    1. Number of hours of training taught,
    2. Number of people treated
    3. Number of Team members treated
    4. Public details
    5. Goals for next year
    6. Education or training performed to the rest of the police department.

    In order to show value and sustain your TEMS Program, you must continually demonstrate success – and then brag about it. Through documentation, you can easily show the value of the TEMS Program, and even identify areas for improvement (e.g. more cross-disciplinary training).

    Simply put, documenting productivity makes it easier to demonstrate value, the need for a TEMS program, outside education, upgraded equipment and additional personnel/resources.

    Real-world, reality check

    Let me step off my soap box and venture into reality. If your TEMS Team resists change, then start making subtle changes, be methodical and strategic about what issue needs to change first and go through the proper chain of command to explain why and how you want to instill change. 

    Write out a syllabus for the year’s training schedule, make a plan, do your due diligence and be prepared for questions and some resistance. 

    Explain to leadership that the mission of the TEMS program is make sure everybody makes it home alive.  Be systematic and document the testing process, test everyone’s skills, document the results and save them in a secure file.

    I test our TEMS Team on tourniquet, chest seal, hemostatic agents and CPR every year. The biggest pet peeve of mine is when I’m asked, “do I need to tighten the tourniquet down?” Of course, you need to tighten it down. Two words, muscle memory saves lives – especially during crisis, high stress and unpredictable environments.   

    Once the testing is complete I review everyone’s personal medical history, medications, allergies recent surgeries and then I obtain vitals. I’ve been asked about why I capture vitals. Simply put, if an officer becomes injured or ill how would I know what is out of the ordinary for that officer?

    Ultimately, my goal is to be able to offer a First Responder Tactical course to police departments. Having a State or even National Certification would mandate a continued medical education program for police officers in order to maintain that certification. 

    About the Author

    Michael Carr is a member of the IPSA’s TEMS Committee and a 20-year Firefighter/Paramedic with the City of Noblesville, Indiana. He started Noblesville’s first TEMS program eight years ago having to write protocols and SOG’s without any training or experience. He is currently working in an administrative role on the TEMS Team. This past spring, he hired his replacement for entry on the team. It’s been bitter sweet, but a great relief knowing this individual is a good Medic and he’s passionate about the work. I continually strive to be better, make the TEMS program better and make sure my whole team goes home at the end of the call out.     

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    Complacency kills: Staying current with TEMS training

  • 28 Aug 2017 1:02 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Michael Carr, IPSA TEMS Committee Member

    Are operating procedures and protocols ever complete? Should a TEMS provider ever be content with just being up to standard? Whether it’s your personal education or the team’s medical training, complacency is a TEMS team’s biggest enemy. 

    Survival trailer

    Recently, I ran my team through a firefighter survival trailer – it was completely dark. We were going through a maze of downed wires and small holes. During their endeavor, I would stop a team member mid-crawl and tell them they had a right arm injury. And not just any arm injury. This injury would incapacitate the limb to the extent that the team member would be forced to keep the right arm completely still while using the left arm to unwind a tourniquet, place it on the injured arm and then tighten in down to a painfully radial pulse stopping degree. 

    Once the tourniquet was applied, I examined the team member’s tourniquet application, using a flashlight because it was dark, and asked these two questions:

    1.  How tight does the tourniquet need to be? 
    2. What happens if the blood doesn’t stop after tightening down the tourniquet?
    After my inspection, I would advise the team member to remove the tourniquet and then sent him or her on to finish the course.

    Training observations

    One team member was taking an extremely long time placing the tourniquet. I bluntly asked, “Are you out of practice?” The team member replied, “I’m trying to place the tourniquet with my entry gloves on.”

    While observing the team member struggling to place the tourniquet, I had an epiphany. After all the years of doing and teaching TEMS, why have I not made the team members train on tourniquet placement with their entry gloves on?

    In our jurisdiction, officers are mandated to wear these gloves while doing any type of SWAT event, and if any operator goes down he or she will be doing buddy-aid or self-aid with the gloves on. TEMS teams must also be training mentally, physically and with the same equipment as we do our job with.  

    Preventing complacency

    Once you believe you have a grasp on what needs to be done as a progressive TEMS provider, look at someone else’s program to learn another way. Exchanging ideas with other teams is a simple way to learn a new technique or find a new piece of equipment.

    Correspond with other TEMS providers outside of your team and outside of your state. Invite another team to teach a TEMS class one month then the next month your team can return the favor. What works for one team may not always work for another, but at least you’re learning and expanding the knowledge base.

    Read articles written by your peers. Authors from around the world constantly write about real world SWAT events so that others may learn what was done right and what needs to change - learn from them. 

    Learn how to care for injured K9s. Placing an oral airway in a dog is much easier than placing one in a human, but do you know how? Or have you ever seen it done? Contact a local veterinarian to see if your TEMS providers observe some surgeries, and make sure to watch the placement of oral airways. Pick the brains of these doctors, learn how to treat our four-legged officers. Most K9 officers have gone through a basic K9 first-aid course and has their own first-aid kit for the dog.

    Reach out to individuals who serve in the military – they can offer ideas on products that have proven themselves worth the money and methods of care. 

    About the Author

    Michael Carr is a member of the IPSA’s TEMS Committee and a 20-year Firefighter/Paramedic with the City of Noblesville, Indiana. He started Noblesville’s first TEMS program eight years ago having to write protocols and SOG’s without any training or experience. He is currently working in an administrative role on the TEMS Team. This past spring, he hired his replacement for entry on the team. It’s been bitter sweet, but a great relief knowing this individual is a good Medic and he’s passionate about the work. I continually strive to be better, make the TEMS program better and make sure my whole team goes home at the end of the call out.      

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  • 25 Aug 2017 3:04 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Group Mobile, an official IPSA Supporter

    First responders are quickly becoming some of the most technologically advanced units in the world. The growing need for a more efficient system to allow for constant connection is changing how public safety professionals handle emergencies.

     Police dispatch centers and officers in the field can share video, process plate and driver license information, use GNSS tracking to provide a more reliable incident response, while EMS professionals can access patient records or use telemedicine to begin treatment while in route to destined hospital. And, even though budget constraints continue to impact departments, there is a commonality – departments are tasked with keeping the public safe while doing even more than ever before.

    Doing more with less

    How do agencies keep up given insufficient financial resources? It’s possible to stay in the game (and ahead) through high performance technologies that connect mobile assets and mission-critical applications that save money through (1) simplification, (2) device failure and (3) error management.  

    Deploying the right technology will ensure all mobile workers have immediate access to the information necessary to respond quickly and efficiently — simplifying the number of devices required inside the mobile work station. A vehicle with constant, uninterrupted connection will ensure device failure and error management is at a record low which in turn creates less user frustration and improved morale. When high performance technology is implemented, it means mobile public safety professionals waste less time on problems arising from disordered or unreliable information.

    Transforming your fleet into mobile information centers

    With a modern police vehicle, ambulance or fire truck, it is no longer just a vehicle; it is a mobile information center. In a world of advanced technology, a mobile information center is integral to public safety agencies today. There are numerous benefits from safety to reliable and timely information related to your call for service. While the list of applications you choose to have in your mobile information center will be driven by your unique operational needs, here are some applications worth considering:

    • Reliable and continual communication
    • Instant access to critical records
    • GPS guidance
    • E-citations
    • Fingerprint authentication readers
    • Smartcard and magnetic card readers
    • Body-worn cameras
    • In-vehicle printing
    • On-scene incident reporting
    • Barcode and RFID readers
    • License plate readers

    We recommend a communications footprint based on a vehicle area network: an on-board router that acts as a secure wireless platform for all devices associated with the vehicle, implementing the proper technology will turn each vehicle into a mobile office or a real-time situational awareness crime center.

    There are various types of devices and applications that must stay connected. These are crucial to ensuring first responders have all the vital information needed to perform their duties.

    Technology has immensely changed in public safety over the past few decades. New and advanced technologies are helping to improve responsiveness and efficiency of public safety professionals, helping them to better serve and protect. If you are struggling with all of the factors during consideration of new and improved technology when connecting your mobile data center, you are not alone.

    Keep in mind, when deploying new technologies to support your department, in-vehicle devices coupled with mission critical applications, select an organization that truly understands a turn-key vehicle networking solution, it will make a huge difference in the cost, rollout plan and return on investment.

    About Group Mobile
    Group Mobile will provide a way to improve budget efficiency by lowering your costs and simplifying various processes — start with a free consultation, next collaborate on the design for implementation and easy vehicle installation, project management, and a full suite of professional services — keep all aspects of the project within one single point of contact.

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  • 25 Aug 2017 11:49 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Tom Joyce, Vigilant Solutions, an official IPSA Supporter

    Recently, a mainstream media outlet reported that a small town in Pennsylvania is stunned about the deaths of four men at the hands of a monster. I, however, am not. I can also venture to guess that no other law enforcement officer, active or retired, is either. At least I hope not. My experience with working on thousands of criminal cases has led me to this simple but profound truth: Anything can happen, anytime and anywhere. In fact, the mainstream headline about the possible tragedy in Pennsylvania reminded me of three other cases: one in bucolic Spring Lake, NJ, and two other related cases in my adopted hometown of Charlottesville, VA.

    In October 2001, a month after 9/11, the Police Chief of Spring Lake, New Jersey came to my office wanting to visit Ground Zero. My boss and I obliged, hopped aboard two ATVs with hard hats affixed, and drove to the site. That experience was raw and visceral, even for me having been a first responder on 9/11, and working the World Trade Center site on numerous occasions over the past month. But the relevant part for this blog happened afterwards. While sharing goodbyes, I offered, as any good cop would, to help the Chief of Spring Lake in the future in the event one of our “regular customers” visited this sleepy Jersey shore town. He laughed and said, “Tom, clearly you don’t know where Spring Lake, NJ is. I don’t think I will be needing your help anytime soon.”

    Review of abduction cases

    A month later in November 2001, Anna Cardlefe was abducted off her front lawn in Spring Lake. The irony was her family relocated to Spring Lake after they were displaced from Battery Park City in New York after the World Trade Center towers fell and the debris and dust forced them out. Fortunately, Anna was recovered safely about a week later. But I called the Chief after the dust in Spring Lake had settled and asked him, “Chief, will you ever say never again?” His response predictably, “Hell, no!”

    In the summer of 2011, I moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, home of Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia (UVa), and tens of thousands of smart, ambitious young adults. Prior to relocating here, I closely followed the case of Morgan Harrington, a Virginia Tech student who disappeared from UVa’s John Paul Jones Arena after a Metallica concert on October 17, 2009. Being a former cold case investigator, the facts of this case intrigued me a lot. Instinct told me this perpetrator had likely offended previously and, if not caught, would strike again. In just a tad over 5 years, that somber prediction came true when Hannah Graham, a British citizen studying at UVa, crossed paths with Jesse Leroy Matthew when she was out socializing one night. Sadly, Hannah would never be seen again.

    Jesse Leroy Matthew would eventually answer for the murder of Hannah, Morgan and others. The community was relieved that he was brought to justice and put behind bars, but what really struck me was the denial that this could happen in this progressive, historic and affluent town. I heard comments such as “These things don’t happen here, and the fact that something like this actually did means it could never happen again.”

    To add insult to injury, I enjoyed a personal relationship with the Police Chief who, without specificity, asked for crime fighting technology and was denied. That technology may not have saved Hannah or Morgan, but I know from the investigation it would have generated a significant lead. Thankfully, the Charlottesville Police Department, Albemarle County Police Department and the Virginia State Police identified Jesse Leroy Matthew soon after Hannah was killed.

    So, I repeat: Anything can happen, anytime and anywhere. Municipalities and agencies not thinking this way are sticking their heads in the sand. Communities must also accept this truth, and push for and support funding for agencies so that they can be armed with the best crime prevention and investigation tools. I am not suggesting that every agency must deploy the most sophisticated technology at all times, but please don’t be in denial.

    About the Author

    Tom Joyce is a retired member of the NYPD in the rank of Lieutenant Commander of Detectives. He commanded the NYPD Cold Case Squad upon his retirement and additionally held many other roles within the detective and organized crime bureaus. Tom often lectures on various subject matters relating to Homicide Investigations and has published numerous articles on criminal investigations. Tom is currently a member of the International Homicide Investigators Association’s Advisory Board.

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  • 21 Aug 2017 2:48 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Columbia Southern University, an official IPSA Supporter

    For men and women in the fire service, leadership is a necessary skill to save lives—from fellow firefighters to citizens to those facing deadly flames. For firefighters, planning and careful decision-making is a regular part the job, however, there are a lot of times when firefighters must make critical decisions very quickly.  

    For firefighters seeking to advance in their careers, academic and workshop training is necessary to becoming a strong leader and reliable fire officer. This can be done in many ways, particularly as it applies to the subject matter or job position or the individual seeking to learn. Whether it’s classes in fire science, organizational leadership or business administration, firefighters can learn a great deal about what it takes to make a department function smoothly.

    Administrative leadership functions

    A formal education can also teach students the aspects of work that they may not have been exposed to along the way including budgeting, evaluations, metrics, scheduling and staffing. These are just a few of the behind-the-scene responsibilities for firefighter leaders. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association’s 4th Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service staffing is a vital area of concern.  

    Workshops and training opportunities such as webinars or specialized seminars are areas of academic learning that allow firefighters to commit to learning a concentrated topic. These classes are handy for students who already have a fire science or appropriate academic degree but are interested in becoming leaders. One popular workshop is Columbia Southern University's Company Officer Academy.  

    “What we do is provide the attendee with the knowledge and information to not just lead better, but to be a better company officer through real life and values-based leadership training,” said Rick Lasky, veteran fire chief and author who is also one of the instructors for the academy.

    Lasky, along with John Salka, also a retired fire chief and author, guide attendees through various discussions of some of the key issues in leading a firehouse. From performance evaluations to disciplining to mentoring, the academy covers a broad range of topics to help fire officers become effective leaders.

    In addition, the CSU also features online continuing education classes that offer CEUs to help aspiring fire leaders gain valuable information. Workshop/training opportunities such as this provide ways for firefighters to learn about leadership from experienced officers. Combined with academic degree instruction, firefighters can gain the necessary skills and knowledge to become a successful fire officer.

    About Columbia Southern University

    One of the nation’s pioneer online universities, Columbia Southern University was established in 1993 to provide an alternative to the traditional university experience. CSU offers online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees such as business administration, criminal justice, fire administration and occupational safety and health. Visit or call (877) 347-6050 to learn more. Members of the IPSA receive a 10% Tuition Discount to Columbia Southern University.


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  • 06 Aug 2017 6:20 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Lexipol, an IPSA Supporter

    The use of unmanned aerial systems, also known as drones, in public safety continues to grow. According to the Center for the Study of the Drone in an April 2017 report, at least 347 state and local policy, sheriff, fire and emergency units have acquired drones, within the last year. Several factors are driving drone use, including decreased cost and increased availability, as well as the issuance of long-awaited FAA guidelines governing public safety drone use.

    But drone use is also a thorny issue, bringing with it privacy, policy and safety concerns. Law enforcement agencies must not only ensure their officers are properly trained, but also that they are complying with federal and state guidelines.

    Having solid policy and procedure in place to guide law enforcement drone use is key to ensuring their legal, safe use. Here are five key policy areas to consider.

    1. Permitted uses

    It’s not difficult to imagine the wide range of benefits drones can provide in law enforcement. According to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, law enforcement drone uses include:

    • Evidence collection and surveillance
    • Photographing traffic crash scenes
    • Monitoring correctional facilities
    • Tracking prison escapees
    • Crowd control and monitoring dangerous situations

    Other documented uses include:

    • Assistance in serving warrants
    • Assistance in emergencies and natural disasters
    • Assessing an area/person before committing personnel to a search or entry
    • Mapping outdoor crime scenes
    • Locating stolen property
    • Detecting explosive ordnance
    • Response to hostage incidents or armed/barricaded subject calls

    In Minnesota, one agency equipped its drone with a system that can track people with Alzheimer’s, autism or other related conditions. The individuals wear transmitters that are activated if they wander, and the drone can help quickly locate them.

    2. Prohibited uses

    But for all their potential, drones are also subject to scrutiny from privacy advocates and state legislatures, creating a growing list of prohibited uses that your agency’s policy must address.

    Prohibited uses vary greatly by state. Some areas to watch include:

    • Random surveillance and crowd control. The National Conference of State Legislatures notes that at least 18 states have passed legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to obtain a search warrant to use drones for surveillance or to conduct a search, absent exigent circumstances. Naturally, this prohibits the use of drones for crowd control or traffic monitoring.
    • Weaponization. According to the NCSL report, three states—Maine, North Dakota and Virginia—prohibit law enforcement agencies from using weaponized drones. Even these restrictions sometimes leave room for interpretation. The North Dakota law specifically prohibits lethal weapons, which spurred a lot of discussion around whether it would be legal to equip drones with less-lethal weapons such as a TASER or tear gas.
    • Targeting a person based on individual characteristics. A generally accepted best practice in law enforcement drone use is to prohibit their use to target a person based solely on individual characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation. State laws may go even further in spelling out restrictions in this area.
    • Facial recognition. Drones can be combined with the latest biometric matching technology. Whether state legislatures will be comfortable with that is another question. A recent bill proposed in Massachusetts would ban drones from using facial recognition and other biometric matching technology except to identify the subject of a warrant.
    • Nighttime use. FAA guidelines only permit law enforcement drone use during daylight hours. Agencies can apply for a waiver, which brings additional requirements and restrictions.

    3. Preserving privacy

    As with other technologies, addressing privacy concerns surrounding drones involves a balance of policy and engagement. Your policy must include a strong statement about the importance of preserving privacy rights.

    Absent a warrant or exigent circumstances, operators must adhere to FAA guidelines and avoid intentionally recording or transmitting images of any location where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a backyard.

    Once your policy incorporates a strong privacy protection, you will be in a better place to engage advocacy groups concerned about the use of law enforcement drones. Pointing to specific examples of how your agency intends to use the drone and how drones have aided in search and rescue operations can also provide a positive focus to such conversations.

    4. Data retention

    Similar to body worn camera footage, data retention issues abound when it comes to drone use. Some policy questions about data and its retention include:

    • Will all video from the drone be recorded?  
    • Where will it be retained
    • How long will the data be retained?
    • How will your agency manage footage collected of those who are not the target of criminal investigations?
    • Can your agency freely share or disclose information gathered by the drone with other governmental agencies?

    Again, some states have issued specific laws. Illinois, for example, requires law enforcement agencies to destroy all information gathered by a drone within 30 days, except when there is “reasonable suspicion that the information contains evidence of criminal activity, or the information is relevant to an ongoing investigation or pending criminal trial” (725 ILCS 167/20).

    Absent any state-specific requirements, it’s probably best to treat data gathered by a drone as you would other records. If your agency has a strong records retention policy, it will probably cover you for records produced by drones as well.

    4. Drone coordinator

    So how do you ensure you’re covering all the complex considerations of using a drone in law enforcement? A best practice is to build the role of drone coordinator into your policy. In most agencies, the drone coordinator will likely not be a separate position, but formally designating someone to coordinate your agency’s drone use helps bring consistency to operations and provides a point of contact for questions or issues.

    Following are just a few responsibilities the drone coordinator can take on:

    • Ensuring that all operators complete required FAA and agency training
    • Developing protocols for conducting criminal investigations involving a drone, including documentation of time spent monitoring a subject
    • Implementing a system for public notification of drone deployment
    • Recommending program enhancements, particularly regarding safety and information security
    • Issuing reports regarding drone use

    5. Take to the skies

    When any powerful technology intersects with law enforcement, agencies are faced with a complex balancing act. On the one hand, drones represent a vast potential of new applications in law enforcement. On the other, agencies must ensure safe, constitutionally sound use. A clear, concise drone policy is essential in achieving this balance.

    One final consideration: keeping your policy and procedures up to date. Drone laws and regulations are very much in flux, with new state legislation popping up frequently. If your agency has established or is considering establishing a drone program, you must ensure you have a way to stay current on changing federal and state regulations.

    About the Author

    Lexipol’s Law Enforcement Policy Manual and Daily Training Bulletin Service provides essential policies that help reduce risk and keep officers safe, including a comprehensive drone operations policy. Contact us today for more information or to request a free demo.

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  • 30 Jul 2017 6:07 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By, Patrick Kelley, Captain Ventura County Fire Department, Member of IPSA’s Mentoring Committee

    The Hartford Consensus has been the most in depth study about active shooter and mass casualty incidents and the development of best practices. According to the study, there are three levels of responder: (1) immediate responders, (2) professional first responders and (3) trauma care professionals. These traditional roles are no longer enough.

    Immediate responders’ role

    Within four to six minutes a person can bleed out and die. This is less than national average response times for professional first responders. 

    Trauma is now the number one cause of death in Americans under the age of 46, and immediate responders are a vital component of survival after a mass casualty incident. Historically, an immediate responder is a bystander who, at best, would initiate a call to 911, and then sit passively waiting for the first responders to arrive. Fast forward to today, immediate responders are now deemed essential to victim survival in active shooter and mass casualty type incidents. Arguably, the immediate responders are the most critical because they are present when the event happens and can immediately intervene.

    Community members are clamoring nationwide for training, but also have legitimate concerns about causing further injury, liability and communicable disease transmission, which is why education and training is so important.

    Provide citizen education, training

    To ensure preventable deaths do not continue to occur, community members need to know that they represent the immediate responders. The Boston Marathon bombing proved how effective the individual can be if they know rudimentary disaster medicine. Everyone remembers the guy in the cowboy hat that became an instant nationally recognized figure for his efforts.

    In 2015, the Obama Administration launched the Stop the Bleed campaign, and DHS now has oversight. Programs endorsed by the campaign teach basic life-saving fundamentals. Bleeding control, airway positioning and activating the 911 system are the common threads throughout theses training programs. All municipalities must learn how to get started and then educate, train and empower their communities about life-saving measures. 

    It must be recognized that asking the public to act as a responder and potentially perform life-saving interventions on others will be tremendously stressful. To ensure that they are successful when called to act, public access bleeding control kits are essential. 

    The study recommends co-locating these kits next to the Public Access Defibrillators, since most people know that is where to find help in the event of an emergency. As part of the information dissemination, mobile technology applications could also show the location of these kits, much the same as has been done with the AEDs.

    An international call to action

    You must educate your community members that when a true disaster occurs, the public safety system will be overloaded. It is in these rare instances when everyone who is able will be asked to assist as an immediate responder.

    Now, the onus for preparing for and mitigating against disasters falls on local government. Given this, you must be the one to initiate the discussion in order reduce preventable deaths occurring.

    Partnerships between local leadership, public safety and the public need to be formed. Once these partnerships are formed, these individuals must sit down at the same table to work through the problem of so many lives being lost to preventable causes and develop actionable solutions. Without these partnerships, a resilient community will never be achievable.

    Communities throughout the country need to recognize the value of these spontaneous rescuers, educate them, equip them and account for them in the planning process. As the study suggests, the nation needs to move forward from simply “if you see something, say something” to “if you see something, say something, do something.” The only way to achieve this is through public education, whole-community partnerships, and providing the equipment necessary to be successful. 

    About the Author

    Patrick Kelley is a Fire Captain assigned to the training section with the Ventura County Fire Department. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management, and is pursuing a Master’s in Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Patrick currently serves on the IPSA’s Mentoring Committee, and if you have any questions you can contact him at

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  • 27 Jul 2017 6:52 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Nicholas Greco IV, M.S., BCETS, CATSM, IPSA Mental Health Committee Chair

    As a first responder, many of you are aware of the dangers of heroin laced with fentanyl, carfentanil and U-47700. In addition, there are a number of other synthetic opioids that seem to evade detection due to the constant tweaking of their molecular structure by street chemists.

    Fentanyl-related substances can be absorbed through the body through injection, orally, contact with one’s mucous membranes, inhalation and through the skin. Not only does exposure pose a clear and present danger to humans, our K-9 officers are also at risk. At minimum, officers should always have their own Personal Protective Equipment consisting of nitrile gloves, N-95 dust masks, sturdy eye protection, paper coveralls/shoe covers and naloxone injectors.

    While the widespread use and increased acceptance of naloxone has helped to reverse overdoses in both users and first responders, we are seeing an upward trend of increased naloxone doses to reverse the effects of opioid exposure. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of heroin and continued diversion of prescription painkillers, this epidemic shows no signs of letting up.

    Handling prescription meds (or so you think)

    Never open a prescription bottle or package and empty the contents into your hands. Once again, even in a prescription bottle, there is no guarantee of the contents. What is labelled on the bottle may not be innocuous, and may be laced with fentanyl or any number of substances. Many persons with mental illness have more than one psychiatric condition and often their mental illness may also be accompanied with alcohol and substance abuse as a means to self-medicate.

    While people may be taking anxiolytics such as the following commonly prescribed benzodiazepines: Ativan (lorazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Valium (diazepam), and Xanax, Xanax XR (alprazolam) to relieve anxiety and produce feelings of relaxation, these may be counterfeit. Xanax (alprazolam) along with oxycodone, and hydrocodone are replaced with fentanyl to mimic the effects of these real products.

    Thus, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, in pill or capsule form, have been represented as Xanax (alprazolam), OxyContin (oxycodone), and other pharmaceutical drugs. In the case of fentanyl and carfentanil, an amount as small as a grain of sand could kill you. Additionally, there are a number of prescription medications in patch form which are easily absorbed through the skin, while others can be absorbed in the mouth through saliva and orally disintegrate.

    You can now see why even opening a closed pill bottle can expose you to minute amounts of the substance.

    Safety tips

    When dealing with unknown substances and to minimize exposure, it may be best practice to not open any containers, bottles, or bags, nor field test any substances. The best advice is to safely handle the substances using PPE, maintain chain of custody, and directly send to the lab for testing and confirmation. 

    More first responders are getting crisis intervention team training, commonly referred to as CIT. And this training is helping to increase awareness of psychological issues in the communities they serve. 

    Lastly, the DEA has released a number of rollcall videos warning of the dangers of handling and field testing suspected illicit substances. The latest DEA rollcall video is a must watch for all first responders. Remember, stay safe by minimizing your risk.

    About the Author

    Nicholas Greco IV, M.S., B.C.E.T.S., C.A.T.S.M. is President and Founder of C3 Education and Research, Inc., a training and consulting firm. Nick has held multiple positions over a 20-year career in clinical operations, project management, multidisciplinary training for civilians and law enforcement, as well as diagnostics and assessment. He has directed, managed and presented training programs globally across various topics including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, verbal de-escalation techniques, post-traumatic stress disorder, burnout, and vicarious traumatization. Nick is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association and Committee Chair of the IPSA's Mental Health Committee.

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  • 24 Jul 2017 3:52 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Brian Bayani, Executive Director/EMS Chief, Northwest Community Health, IPSA Chair – Multidiscipline Mentoring Committee

    The psychological well-being of employees has emerged as a significant focus for public safety organizations in recent years. The nature of the job often exposes personnel to high-stress situations and traumatic events (McFarlane, Williamson, & Barton, 2009), which have a profound impact on stress.

    In EMS and the fire service, there is a relationship between distress and exposure to specific incident types, including child death, caring for a friend or family member and caring for disaster, crime and burn victims (Holland, 2011).

    In law enforcement, similar relationships exist with use of force, particularly deadly force, and physical assault (Violanti & Aron, 1993).

    The prevalence of stress and its manifestations among public safety professionals present significant challenges for leaders, though one potential pathway for managing stress may lie in the concept of self-efficacy.

    Confidence or lack-of

    Self-efficacy generally refers to an individual’s confidence in his or her ability to undertake a particular action or behavior to produce an outcome (Bandura, 1977).

    Perceptions of self-efficacy can influence chosen behaviors (Bandura, 1982). For example, if an employee believes he or she can successfully perform positive coping behaviors, they may be more likely to engage in those behaviors. Similarly, an employee may avoid certain coping behaviors if he or she believes they are incapable of performing the behavior.

    The notion of self-efficacy also influences cognitions and stress reactions (Bandura, 1982). Benight and Bandura (2004) found that high coping self-efficacy was associated with lower perceived risk and buffered stress reactions to potential threats. Individuals with higher coping self-efficacy were also less preoccupied by intrusive thoughts stemming from potential threatening situations and had shorter stress recovery periods and lower overall distress.

    Self-efficacy perceptions affect motivation to deal with challenging or threatening situations and for how long and to what extent one will persevere when confronted with such situations (Bandura, 1982; Benight & Bandura, 2004).

    Well-being, PTSD, or burnout

    It is not surprising then that self-efficacy frequently correlates to measures of psychological and general well-being. For example, a study of emergency medical dispatchers found self-efficacy to be a significant predictor of well-being in that population, but failed to identify self-efficacy as a significant predictor of post-traumatic stress syndrome or post-traumatic growth (Shakespeare-Finch, Rees, & Armstrong, 2015).

    In contrast, a study of patients who had endured significant physical trauma found that low self-efficacy was a significant predictor for the development of post-traumatic stress syndromes (Flatten, Wälte, & Perlitz, 2008). Self-efficacy also mediates between post-traumatic stress symptoms and perceptions of cognitive difficulties in certain situations (Samuelson, Bartel, Valadez, & Jordan, 2016).

    Burnout is a specific manifestation of stress with three dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of ineffectiveness (Maslach, Schaufeli, and Leiter 2001). Burnout has been shown to contribute to life satisfaction, job satisfaction, and perception of job demands (Ângelo & Chambel, 2015; Gökçen, Zengin, Oktay, Alpak, Al, & Yildirim, 2013; Reizer, 2015). A study of Italian fire and emergency medical services workers found self-efficacy negatively correlated to burnout following exposure to traumatic events (Prati, Pietrantoni, & Cicognani, 2010).

    Consistent with Benight and Bandura (2004), the study concluded that emergency personnel tended to have less severe responses to stressful situations when self-efficacy perceptions were higher. Fida, Laschinger and Leiter (2016) similarly found that higher levels of self-efficacy correlated to lower levels of exhaustion and cynicism among nurses. Both exhaustion and cynicism negatively correlated to mental health. Shoji, Cieslak, Smoktunowicz, Rogala, Benight, and Luszczynska (2016) also found a negative effect of self-efficacy on burnout, positing that development of personal self-efficacy was beneficial in coping with negative occupational experiences.

    Leadership style influences self-efficacy

    The subject of leadership has gained considerable interest as a factor in both the self-efficacy percepts and stress of employees. One study found that leadership behaviors that demonstrate honesty, integrity and moral values positively correlated to higher employee self-efficacy (Fallatah, Laschinger, & Read, 2017). An inverse relationship also exists between abusive supervision and self-efficacy, such that self-efficacy percepts are lower when employees perceive abusive behavior by their supervisors (Zhi-Xia & Hong-Yan, 2017).

    With regard to stress, supportive leadership correlated with lower stress and fewer negative stress outcomes among military members (Britt, Davison, Bliese, & Castro, 2004). Additionally, a qualitative study of paramedics also found that EMS workers who reported positive experiences with stressful situations described supportive behaviors by their leaders (Clompus & Albarran, 2016). Chen and Bliese (2002) found that the degree to which subordinates perceived leaders to provide task direction and social support positively correlated to subordinate self-efficacy and negatively correlated to psychological strain.

    Nielsen and Munir (2009) found a relationship between visionary, creative and inspiring leadership styles and overall well-being, also confirming a mediating role of self-efficacy on the relationship between transformational leadership and well-being. Liu, Siu, and Shi (2010) also found that this style of transformational leadership positively correlated to self-efficacy and that self-efficacy moderated the effect of leadership behaviors on occupational stress.

    Laschinger, Borgogni, Consiglio, and Read (2015) found a positive relationship between authentic leadership style and nurses’ self-efficacy. Consistent with prior studies, self-efficacy was negative correlated to work strain, components of burnout, and psychological well-being. Further still, Rahbar, Zare, and Akbarian Bafghi (2016) found that relationship-building, supporting and empowering behaviors by leaders negatively correlate to components of employee burnout and positively correlated to employee self-efficacy.

    Research disparities

    A small segment of prior research has failed to establish significant correlations between self-efficacy and psychological well-being. It is worth noting also that there is some evidence to suggest that high self-efficacy may have a deleterious effect on mental health in certain specific situations (Schönfeld, Preusser, & Margraf, 2017).

    In general, however, increasing empirical evidence has affirmed self-efficacy as an important factor in promoting psychological well-being. In studies that challenge the global benefit of self-efficacy, researchers largely attribute inconsistencies to specific contextual circumstances and differences in personal characteristics.

    Importance of prior performance

    Bandura postulated that self-efficacy is influenced by several factors. The most significant of these is prior performance.

    Simply, prior successful performance of a task or behavior increases the belief that the employee can replicate that behavior or similar behaviors in the future. Exposing employees to challenge stressors through simulation training and problem solving opportunities, for example, can build resilience to future stressors.

    To a lesser extent, observing others perform target behaviors and receiving positive encouragement also develop self-efficacy. By modeling positive coping skills and behaviors, leaders may be able to increase subordinates’ beliefs that they also cope with stress positively. Similarly, providing encouragement and promoting stress management initiatives such as peer support or wellness programs can have positive effects on staff self-efficacy and stress reduction.

    About the Author

    Chief Bayani is a Licensed Paramedic and Master Peace Officer in the State of Texas. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Northwest Community Health in Tomball, Texas, and is the Chair of the IPSA Multidiscipline Mentoring Committee. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Sam Houston State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Administration from the University of Houston – Downtown. Chief Bayani is also a doctoral student in the Cook School of Leadership at Dallas Baptist University.

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  • 24 Jul 2017 3:12 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By John Kapinos, IPSA Mentoring Committee

    The following is my best recollection of a conversation between me and a command-level officer in an agency I used to work for. This conversation occurred sometime in 2001:

    “John, I don’t know why you are always pushing this strategic planning thing. We are a ‘put out the fire’ type of organization – we don’t have time for that kind of stuff.”

    “Maybe if we did better strategic planning, we wouldn’t have so many fires to put out.”

    “But we are really good at putting out the fires.”

    This reflects what seems to be the typical mindset within much of the public safety profession when somebody mentions the idea of strategic planning. 

    Today versus tomorrow

    In fact, the emergency response community makes a professional point of pride at being able to respond and handle any form of catastrophic event that occurs on their watch; and our first responders do indeed uniformly excel at this.

    The drawback to this, however, is that police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel tend to function on a day-to-day, shift-to-shift, call-to-call basis. They respond, put out the proverbial fire, write up the needed report and then move on to the next event.

    What is missing from this equation is the process of stopping, reflecting, evaluating organizational performance and looking toward the future of the profession.

    Public safety agencies are understandably focused on the needs of today, but must be careful not to neglect to think about the needs of tomorrow – or five years from now. A comprehensive ongoing process of strategic planning and evaluation is essential to help agencies close this gap. Failure to do so will find agencies stuck on the wrong side of a historical power curve.

    Implementing change

    Strategic planning is simply the organizational mechanism to plan for and to implement change. Although frequently dreaded by public safety professionals, change is inevitable and must be anticipated and proactively addressed.

    Many of us who have served in the public safety profession over the past thirty years know the impacts of change on how we do our jobs. We can recall many struggles of adapting to the introduction of new technologies. Over the past decade, the law enforcement profession has been dealing with changing demands and expectations regarding the use-of-force and with interacting with increasingly diverse populations.

    Fire departments have transitioned within a two-generation period from a primary focus on fire suppression to one of emergency medical response. These are broad strategic changes that have not always been implemented smoothly.

    Not planning is devaluing

    Smart organizations stay focused and relevant through a process of continual re-evaluation and evolution. Strategic planning is the cornerstone of that process. I describe strategic planning as a way to identify, describe and plan for future change. The process must include constant self-evaluation to ensure fidelity to the mission and values of the organization. And the organizational vision is continually re-focused in accordance with identified future trends and changing circumstances.

    A current police chief, an acquaintance, previously said, “I love strategic planning, but I hate the process involved.”

    Strategic planning does not have to be onerous or complicated. Agencies have full authority to scale and tailor the process to their particular needs and capacity. The most important thing is not to follow some prescribed, elaborate planning model, but to develop and institutionalize a process that works for the agency and the constituents it represents.

    “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.” --Dwight D. Eisenhower.

    About the Author

    John Kapinos is a founding partner of LEAP21 Consulting LLC. Previously, he served in Fairfax County Police Department as a strategic planner and Montgomery County Police Department as a lieutenant. John is a member of IPSA’s Mentoring Committee and if you have any questions for him, you can contact him through us at

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