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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.

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  • 11 Sep 2017 11:39 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Mark Chamberlain 

    The technological advances of the past 20 years make it instantly possible to know who is in our jail. We need only open our jail management software and start pointing and clicking away. We’ll get a neat, alphabetized list of everyone who is in our custody. If we delve further, we can view an inmate’s current charges, bond amount, housing location and a host of other information. All that being said, do we truly know who we have in custody at a given moment?

    I’m reminded of a situation that took place when I was a young deputy sheriff working in a jail in South Florida. Officials from Puerto Rico paid us a visit one day to pick up an inmate who we had in custody awaiting extradition. The previous year, this same inmate had served eight months of a one-year sentence for a non-violent offense at our minimum-custody facility. The inmate was assigned as a motor pool “trusty.” Five days a week, for eight months, this inmate boarded a bus and rode, unrestrained, with 15 or 20 other inmates, to work in our agency’s motor pool. There he was supervised by the mechanics and other non-sworn staff as he performed minor repairs and oil changes to the agency’s fleet of patrol and specialty vehicles.

    This inmate did his time without any problems, earned his gain time and was released without incident. Months later, he was arrested on an active National Crime Information Center hit out of Puerto Rico for first-degree murder of a Puerto Rican police officer.

    First-degree murder, terrorism

    The murder took place before the inmate began his sentence at our facility. Due to a lengthy investigation and process to obtain the warrant, it wasn’t until after he was out of our custody that the NCIC warrant entry was made. Had we known about this situation, do you think we would’ve given this inmate free rein around police vehicles, deputies, tools, civilian staff members and minimum-custody housing? Of course not. But as the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know.

    Consider a more widely known and more glaring example: Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Just 90 minutes after the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, McVeigh was arrested and booked for having no tag on his vehicle and for carrying a concealed firearm. He was taken to the Noble County, Oklahoma Courthouse and Jail, which at the time housed a maximum of 19 inmates, where he remained on a $5,000 bond before federal authorities pieced together his involvement in the bombing. There is no way that the deputies who had him in custody knew (or could have known) that he was the most prolific domestic terrorist to date during his short stay at the jail.

    Incomplete criminal history

    We know the current criminal charges an inmate is facing. We know an inmate’s documented criminal history (in the US at least). But have you ever given thought to how many crimes inmates may have committed that didn’t lead to arrest or conviction? The inmates are certainly aware of their record. Other inmates probably know too. Our motor pool trusty certainly knew what he had done and what he was capable of—but we had no clue.

    The point here is that we must be careful about assigning labels (such as trusty) to inmates. We must resist the temptation to let our guard down based upon someone’s custody level, job assignment or even their behavior while incarcerated. In my experience, many murderers and sex offenders are the best-behaved inmates. I’m not saying that everyone should be treated as a maximum-custody inmate, but we do need to have policies and practices in place to help us minimize these risks—e.g., requiring the use of restraints on all inmates during transports, or including sworn or certified staff in supervising inmate work details.

    In corrections, we never truly know who gets booked into or who stays at our facilities. We must remain vigilant and do what we can to ensure that security, housing and classification issues are resolved in our favor.

    About the Author

    Mark Chamberlain served as the first Chief Deputy of Corrections for the Garland County Sheriff’s Office in Hot Springs, Ark., from 2014 to 2016. Prior to his selection, Mark worked for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in West Palm Beach, Fla., for over 26 years, starting off as a Corrections Deputy and retiring as a Captain/Division Commander. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Northwood University and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Barry University. He is a graduate of Class #10 of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Senior Leadership Program and holds a correctional certification in Florida and a senior law enforcement certification in Arkansas as well as instructor certifications in both states. Mark joined the Lexipol team as a Training Coordinator in August 2016.

    Lexipol’s Custody Policy Manual and Daily Training Bulletin Service provides essential policies that help reduce risk associated with inmate classification and support efficient, legally sound correctional facility operations. Contact us today to find out more.

  • 10 Sep 2017 6:19 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By James Dundas, Chair of the IPSA Memorial Committee

    Like many firefighters, law enforcement officers and EMT’s, public safety is a family affair. After arriving at the North Tower on 9/11, one of the Chief Officer’s instituted incident command issuing tactical orders to arriving units. His brother, another firefighter, responded on one of the initial engine companies.

    Knowing that rescue was the priority, the Chief Officer ordered companies into the tower to effect rescue of those trapped by the searing fires. His brother, one of the first in, never came out.

    There are stories of heroism, sacrifice and incredible loss in public safety history, and 9/11 was one of the most tragic day’s in our nation’s public safety community. Tragedy does not seem to capture the absolute horror these brave responders experienced on that day of terror.

    A few years later, when I met this Chief Officer and heard his personal story about 9/11, I also got to meet his aide – they shared the same last name, but the two were not related. They seemed inseparable. Sadly though, the aide recently passed away from 9/11 related cancer.

    The number of losses from 9/11 continues to climb due to related illness and exposure to toxins at ground zero. I was fortunate to see him before he passed. He was heroic in his conduct and attitude. He set in place programs and services to assist those suffering from the tower collapses, knowing that he would not be a beneficiary of those services. He is a shining example of the human spirit.

    To him, and to all who rush into harm’s way, we will never forget.

  • 31 Aug 2017 9:06 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Gregory L. Walterhouse, Bowling Green State University, IPSA Member

    In a study of the public’s perception of the fire/rescue service 51 percent of respondents had an excellent perception of the fire service, with 27 percent reporting a good perception and 12 percent a satisfactory perception. This reflects an overall positive perception of the fire service by 90 percent of respondents. Yet, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel are increasingly the subject of violent attacks sometimes resulting in serious injury or death. A recent study by Drexel University found that paramedic’s risk of being violently assaulted is 14 times greater than the firefighters they work alongside.

    Violent attacks against firefighters and EMS personnel are not limited to the United States, as the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service reports a 16 percent increase in violent attacks against on-duty fire fighters in less than two years.

    Assault types, locations vary

    Assaults against first responders include being shot, stabbed, bitten, physically assaulted, being attacked with fireworks and motor vehicle hit-and-run. The following are representative examples of the types of violent assaults being perpetrated against first responders.

    On December 24, 2012, two firefighters were shot to death and two were wounded in an ambush in Webster, New York. More recently shots were fired at a Vallejo fire station and engines in Chicago , Savannah and Youngstown among others have been struck by bullets. Fortunately, there were no injuries in these incidents. Illustrating the hazards associated with Narcan use for overdose reversal a Missouri man attempted to shoot fire and EMS personnel after being administered Narcan.

    In Houston, a Fire Captain was stabbed in the eye by a man he was attempting to rescue from a fire and in San Diego two firefighters were stabbed while giving medical aid to a man. In another incident a firefighter was physically assaulted by a resident he was attempting to remove from a burning house in Logansport, Indiana which contained a drug growing operation.

    Further, a Florida Battalion Chief who was assisting a deputy at the scene of a motor vehicle crash had his arm bitten so severely by the suspect that it required surgery and hospitalization. Firefighters in Dallas responding to a dumpster fire were attacked by individuals shooting fireworks at them. And, a firefighter working a “fill-the-boot” event in Lansing Michigan was killed in an intentional hit-and-run incident.

    These are but a few examples of unprovoked attacks and assaults on firefighter and EMS personnel which have prompted departments and state legislatures to take action.

    Dispatch and PPE

    The first line of defense in protecting first responders is good dispatch information. When dictated by dispatch information, fire and EMS should stage at a safe distance until arrival of law enforcement. The second line of defense is situational awareness. First responders must always be aware of their surroundings and ensure that the scene is safe. First responders must follow their instincts and “street smarts” that only come with training and experience. If the situation does not seem “right” it probably isn’t.

    Due to the increased danger of being shot, the Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests that all firefighters be equipped with ballistic vests when responding to mass shootings and other critical incidents. This is exactly what many departments are doing.

    A few of the departments that have purchased ballistic vests for fire and EMS personnel include: FDNY, Cleveland, Detroit, Fairfield, California, Portsmouth, Ohio, Gwinnett County, Georgia, Pinellas and Orange County in Florida and Orlando which also purchased ballistic helmets in addition to vests. While some departments are equipping apparatus with ballistic vests for critical incidents other departments are issuing ballistic vest directly to personnel to be worn daily.

    The Mt. Pleasant, Michigan Fire Department went a step further. In addition to providing ballistic vests for their firefighters, they have, in cooperation with their Police Department trained firefighters in self-defense tactics including how to avoid confrontation. They have also trained and equipped firefighters with pepper spray which is carried during deployment at special events.  Self-defense training is easily obtainable for all departments through the Firefighter Support Foundation’s free download program Self-Defense for Firefighters and EMTs that consists of a PowerPoint program and video presentation.  

    Other departments are developing rescue task forces and other integrated response programs which coordinate the response of law enforcement, fire and EMS for response to active shooter and other active violence incidents.

    Integrated response however should not be limited to the big incidents and should be used on day-to-day incidents where first responders are subject to potential acts of violence. Effective policies must be in place for any type of multidisciplinary integrated response to be effective.

    The Report of the Joint Police/Fire Task Force on Civil Unrest recommends that “policies and procedures for joint ventures should be developed, approved and accepted by all agencies involved, in order to clearly establish responsibilities and avoid discrepancies and disagreements during the crisis” (USFA, 1994). The report goes on to indicate that the ideal scenario is one where policies are adopted in a joint police/fire preparedness stage and anticipate as many contingencies as possible.

    Legislative action

    State legislatures are also taking action in response to the increased acts of violence that target first responders. Last year the Governor of Kansas signed into law H.B. No. 2502 which permits public employees including firefighters to carry concealed handguns while engaged in official duties. In Texas H.B. No. 982 introduced in January 2017 would permit certain first responders to carry handguns while engaged in the discharge of the first responder duties. The Texas senate recently endorsed a similar bill. A similar bill has been introduced in Michigan. H.B. No. 4842 of 2017 would exempt firefighters and medical first responders from pistol-free zones. Also in Michigan, S.B. No.127 of 2017 would make the commission or attempt to commit a felony against a police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service personnel a two year felony to be served consecutively with any other charges. Ohio, H.B. No. 38 of 2017 recently passed by the House and now under consideration by the Senate imposes extra prison time for criminal offenders who assault first responders or members of the military.  

    All first responders perform dangerous work which has become more dangerous due to violent attacks on those that are there to help others. While there is always the potential for injury there are steps that can be taken to lessen the probability of first responders being assaulted and injured.  Though there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to protecting first responders, there are a number of viable options, some that come with little to no cost, from which departments can develop their own custom programs and procedures to protect their most valuable asset.

    About the Author

    Greg Walterhouse is a member of the IPSA and a full-time faculty member in the Fire Administration and Masters in Public Administration programs at Bowling Green State University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Oakland University, a Master’s degree in Legal Studies from the University of Illinois and a Master’s degree in Management from Central Michigan University. Before joining BGSU he had over 35 years of experience in fire/rescue and emergency management with 18 years in upper management, including Manager of Emergency Services and Chief of the Rochester Hills (MI) Fire Department and Chief of the Mt. Pleasant (MI) Fire Department.

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  • 31 Aug 2017 6:43 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Mr. John Meehan UAS Integration Office, AUS-430, Safety & Operations Branch, FAA

    Mr. John Meehan was one of four panelists during the 2017 IPSA Webinar Week – FAA Considerations for Getting Operational with UAS in Public Safety. Hundreds of public safety professionals attended the event. The IPSA selected the top questions by the audience and Meehan responded.

    Our department wants to get a new UAS program in place. Who do I contact first at the FAA to get started?

    Download the FAA Advisory Circular AC 00-1.1A and review the Statutes (49 USC 40102 and 40125) concerning public aircraft operations (PAO) to help you understand if your entity qualifies to operate as a PAO. Not all public safety entities qualify to operate as a PAO under the Statutes (must be a political subdivision of a State, for example) and some missions will not meet the “governmental functions” listed in the Statutes to be flown as a PAO, and therefore must be flown under the civil rules, Part 107. And then if you have additional questions, we invite public safety entities to reachout to Steve Pansky and/or John Meehan, until there is some basic starter information posted on the FAA website.

    What are the requirements for demonstrating UAS airworthiness?

    107.13 Registration.  A person operating a civil sUAS must comply with the provisions of 91.203(a)(2).  The procedures for registration are on

    107.15 Condition for safe operation applies here. Prior to each flight the RPIC must check the sUAS to determine whether it is in a condition for safe operation.

    107.49(c)(d)(e) Preflight Familiarization, Inspection, and Actions for Aircraft Operation also applies. Again, prior to each flight the RPIC must ensure that all control links between ground control station and the sUA are working properly; ensure that there is enough available power for the sUAS to operate for the intended operational time; and ensure that any object attached or carried by the sUA is secure and does not adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft.

    How much concern should public safety agencies place into security concerns over foreign UAS products and software? And will agencies such as DARPA weigh in on the issue soon? Does the FAA have an official stance?

    The FAA is most concerned about safety of the NAS and people and property on the ground. Security concerns should be determined by each public safety entity in accordance with their own needs and requirements.

    The FAA website had sample COA's that you could look at for best practices. Those appeared to be taken down in May or around that time frame. Is there an opportunity for them to come back?

    COA applications are not cookie cutter exercises as each entity has their own unique circumstances and missions, and some of the information in the COAs is protected. The FAA does not publish the approval of all COAs for public agencies, however for there are some older COAs available that were requested under the FOIA. 

    However, these examples are relatively old and may not be good examples for your use. UAS in the NAS is evolving every day and requirements change as we learn more or modify our processes, knowledge, and expectations from operators, for example.  For Civil Part 107 approvals, the location was renamed and the new locationIf you want to obtain Part 107 waivers, pay close attention to the Safety Waiver Guidelines and answer those requirements carefully and thoughtfully. Remember that the FAA’s mission is the safety of the Airspace (NAS) and those who use it, so keep the safety of the NAS and persons and property on the ground foremost in your mind as you complete the applications. Don’t assume technology by itself will solve the fundamental safety issue.

    Who do I contact to speak about removing DJI geofencing that is hampering our jurisdiction? Name, phone, email please.

    You’ll have to contact the manufacturer or software producer on that issue. 

    Can you go over a few of those UAS use cases for law enforcement and the fire service to help demonstrate the need for a UAS program?

    Use cases are best developed from discussions with your fellow public safety entities who have successfully implemented UAS, and with your leadership and community to determine who, what, when, where, why, and how you will deploy your UAS. We suggest you reach out to trade associations, interest groups, and fellow first responders who have developed those use cases since the applications for UAS are infinite. The FAA does not favor or disfavor any particular use case, as long as they comply with the regulationss and laws and do not compromise safety.

    About the Author

    John is a Management & Program Analyst and Industry Liaison in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Team, located at FAA Headquarters in Washington, DC. In this role, John provides technical support, subject matter expertise, and performs detailed research in response to inquiries from within the agency, other agencies, industry, Congress, and the general public, and coordinates responses with appropriate FAA personnel. John holds a Commercial Pilot Certificate with Instrument rating rotary wing, a Private Pilot Rating with Instrument rating, single engine land airplane, and a UAS Remote Pilot Certificate.

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  • 31 Aug 2017 6:26 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By M.K. Palmore, CISSP, FBI

    Mr. M.K. Palmore was a 2017 IPSA Webinar Week instructor. Hundreds of public safety professionals attended the event How a cyberattack can bring down your department & how to identify, respond, recover. The IPSA selected the top questions by the audience and Palmore responded.

    What is your opinion of the recommended NIST password changes?

    There has been a fair amount of concentration on the development of complex passwords, but not enough emphasis on the ability of two-factor authentication (2FA) to mitigate threats. 2FA is a largely effective counter to the threat actor’s ability to infiltrate systems and is readily available to both consumers and businesses as an effective control measure. I would highly recommend its implementation and use.

    What is Assurance Process Integration?

    Quality assurance is an existing process used in most manufacturing and software development. It is the periodic, but formalized testing that ensures that an end product meets all necessary requirements.  Information security should be a part of the assurance process. While testing functionality, information security should be tested ensuring the completeness of the product or system.

    I heard that dark web healthcare records are often sold for $400 per patient record, is this true?

    Patient records are more valuable than any data currently offered on the dark web. These records last for the life of the victim and sometimes beyond. The value fluctuates, but they are consistently amongst the highest in value and desire to obtain by cybercriminal threat actors.

    Does this happen in other public safety professions (e.g. law enforcement, fire)?

    Any business or entity that has operations utilizing networked environments can fall victim to a cyberattack. It is a common belief in the security business that obscurity is not a defense.

    What are the six areas of the incident response playbook?

    Preparation, Identification, Containment, Eradication, Recovery and Lessons Learned are the six areas generally covered in developing an incident response “playbook.”

    About the Author

    M.K. Palmore, CISSP, is a Senior Federal Law Enforcement Executive and has strong leadership and mentoring skills responsible for cybersecurity, risk management and strategic-vision creation and implementation. His skilled competencies and areas of excellence include Cybersecurity, Enterprise Risk Management, Governance & Compliance, Information Security Program Development, Digital Forensics, InfoSec Incident Response & Management, Physical Security, Executive-Protection, Crisis Response & Management, Business Continuity and Disaster Response Planning.

  • 30 Aug 2017 6:25 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Amy Morgan, IPSA Mental Health Committee Member

    Ms. Amy Morgan was a 2017 IPSA Webinar Week instructor. Hundreds of public safety professionals attended the event Why first responders need post incident debriefings. The IPSA selected the top questions by the audience and Morgan responded.

    Q:  Is the level of resiliency one has based on the degree of trauma suffered or the extent to which they had grit and hope throughout the process? In other words, is my ability to bounce back based on how much trauma I suffered or how prepared I am to deal with trauma in the first place?

    A:   I talk about being prepared and strong, so that your resilience is higher -- that is a contributing factor. If you're already strong in your three primary areas of health (mental, emotional, physical), then the trauma will be less likely to “knock you down” than it would be if any or all of those areas is in a weakened state. It's important to get and stay strong in your overall health, so that you are better equipped to manage trauma when it happens.

    It’s not the amount of trauma suffered, but what you've done to help yourself heal from trauma, that matters most. If you experience trauma on a regular basis, let's say once a month, then you have a difficult job. Each time you take the efforts to manage the experience through debriefing, and using resources for healing and recovery, then you will be better equipped (mentally, emotionally, physically) to face the next trauma and the after-effects of the traumas will be lessened for you.

    But someone who experiences these ongoing (cumulative) trauma experiences and does nothing to heal from them, then his or her overall health will be weakened a bit more each time they go through the next trauma experience or event.

    Q:   I work in 911 telecommunications and just listened through a violent act. What are some quick ways that I can decompress before answering the next call?

    A:   You may only have moments after one difficult call before you must answer another one, and if you don't decompress or perform any healing exercises, then you will take all your reactions from one call right into the other, and they will compound. 

    If you have the time and ability, then "debrief" yourself. There is a workbook that I created on debriefing exercises that you should use and write down your own answers if you have no team or group to go through the debriefing with. You should write about your plan to handle this type of call and write about the reality of how you handled it.

    Document the things you did right and well and want to repeat. Then note the things you want to improve on or find ways to grow better at. Then write about your reactions and thoughts on the experience. Write out the things that you may be experiencing later, after your shift or even days or weeks later, because of the experience you just had.

    Option 1: If you have only moments, and you have only yourself (no team debriefings), it’s much better to try to do something rather than nothing. I suggest creating a quick a few sets of note cards, and use a set each time after a call. For each set of eight cards write: 1) Plan; 2) Reality; 3) What went well; 4) Growth area; 5) Reactions; 6) Thoughts; 7) Later to watch for; 8) Resource. Then, while you’re on duty, use one line for each answer and run through the set quickly.

    Option 2: If you have even more time, try writing longer answers or journaling. Identify now resources that you can use later during your off-peak hours. You can take your note cards or journal with you as things to discuss. 

    Option 3: If you only have 30 seconds between calls and don't have time to for option one or two above while you’re on-duty (do those things later though), close your eyes, breathe slowly and think of the positive perspective of how you just helped with the situation; focus on that until your next call. 

    Q:   Do you think it better to discuss what we witness with our spouses or loved ones or is it better to shield them from what we see?

    A:   This isn't really a "one answer fits all" question, but in my opinion, this could actually be very beneficial for a marriage, for a couple to talk about what one is experiencing related to trauma, but I say this with a caveat – it would be beneficial for the couple, together, to use the post-trauma resources and heal together. 

    If you go home after a shift and tell your spouse about all the difficult and horrible things you saw all day, and leave them with that information – remember the descriptors of trauma, then they could then have their own trauma reactions by hearing about the experience and by having a loved one that went through it. 

    It's great to have someone supportive and understanding to share your experience with, but then you've passed a trauma along to them, which I believe is your concern, and so the solution is to share the healing. 

    Sharing the healing process with your spouse could have the same effect it has on the response team. It could make you more cohesive, put you on the same side because you are now sharing the same perspective of the events (and the job), and it could also help both of you find ways to manage your reactions and fears going forward. 

    Building strength and resilience together, and being prepared together for the potential events that may happen, will strengthen your ability to face those things as they come and to share the healing from them when they do.

    Q:   What is the number to the suicide helpline, and is it OK to call it if I’m just feeling depressed.

    A:   The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255 (TALK) and it is available 24/7.  The people who answer this line are well trained to listen, no matter why the caller is calling.

    Not only are they trained to talk someone through their thoughts of suicide and to help and to provide resources and support, but they are also trained to just listen and be a supportive shoulder to lean on while you're going through something difficult. 

    If you've just had an especially bad day and you need someone to share that with, call the number. Their whole purpose and goal is to listen to what you have gone through and help provide whatever support they can. 

    Anyone, of any age, at any time of day, in any occupation, can anonymously call and have someone on the other end of the phone who is ready and willing to hear what you need to talk about.

    About the Author

    Ms. Morgan is an instructional designer, trainer and strategist via Academy Hour, a training provider offering courses to law enforcement, first response teams and business groups. She is pursuing a Doctorate of Education degree with a specialization in curriculum and teaching, has earned a Master's degree in Counseling, and holds a Bachelor's of Science in Behavioral Sciences. She previously served as the Training Officer for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and as an Instructional Systems Designer and Trainer for the Federal Aviation Administration.

    Ms. Morgan writes/publishes therapy resource workbooks & training materials, and serves as a subject matter expert and presenter of leadership & mental health training sessions for the International Public Safety Association. Ms. Morgan also serves as a curriculum developer and instructor of mental health courses for the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training in Oklahoma. She is a certified trainer for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), and is trained as a QPR (Question Persuade Refer) trainer as well as a Crisis Prevention Institute Non-Violent Physical Crisis Intervention trainer. Additionally, she is Oklahoma Supreme Court certified as a civil mediator, and she has achieved Mensa membership status.

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  • 28 Aug 2017 2:05 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    Goodyear, AZ, August 28, 2017

    Hurricane Harvey is taking a toll on the emergency responders and communities of Texas. The International Public Safety Association’s Executive Director, Heather R. Cotter, emailed its members based in Texas on Sunday, August 27, 2017.

    IPSA members from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, Fire/EMS as well as 911 telecommunications reported back, albeit briefly, that they appreciated the correspondence. One IPSA member, Chief Gary Teeler with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stated that he was working more than 15-hour days in the Special Operations Center since Harvey made landfall. Another IPSA member, with the ATF based in Dallas, indicated that his team was en route to Houston.

    Executive Director Cotter stated that, “The impact, response and recovery efforts are all still unknown, but what we do know is that the emergency responders in Texas are pulling together and working around the clock. There are a lot of unknowns about the integrity of critical infrastructure during this type of flooding and every emergency responder is working selflessly to save as many lives as possible.”

    Hurricane Harvey, classified as a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall on Friday, August 25, 2017. Emergency responders are coming together from around the state, and the country, to provide aid. Response and recovery efforts are still in progress. These efforts will continue for the foreseeable future. Harvey’s total impact and devastation is still unknown, but preliminary reports are indicating that it will take several communities years to rebuild.

    About the International Public Safety Association

    The International Public Safety Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was established in July 2014 in the State of Arizona. Our Mission is to break down the cultural barriers and foster the relationships between EMS, fire, law enforcement, telecommunicators, and emergency responders. Our vision is for a stronger, more integrated public safety community capable of an effective joint response to all public safety incidents.

    Media Contact
    Heather R. Cotter, Executive Director
    Mobile: 703-909-7616

  • 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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    What TEMS Teams really need to know about Protocols, SOPs

  • 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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