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Together we are stronger

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.

The IPSA is launching a new, highly competitive opportunity for up to 25 members to become regular contributors to the IPSA's Public Safety Column. This is a volunteer opportunity. 

The IPSA's Public Safety Column is our digital editorial platform. We only accept non-commercial, thought leadership articles about topics facing public safety.

All articles we publish become property of the IPSA. These articles are posted on the IPSA's website, shared in its newsletters and shared on social media. 

The articles we publish are not necessarily the views of the IPSA, rather they are opinions shared by each contributor.

Applications will be accepted through April 30, 2020. 

Apply Here

  • 18 Jul 2018 9:37 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Ahrar “Sid” Siddiqui, Supervisor, Arlington County (VA) Emergency Communications Center, IPSA Fitness/Wellness Committee Member

    Wellness is defined as the state of being in good health, and strength training is a critical component of getting in good health. Whether you work in law enforcement, the fire service, 911 telecommunications or other public safety related discipline, there is a clear need to be in good health. There are obvious physical benefits to reap from a balanced program, such as increased strength and flexibility, but also many overlooked advantages that can make a bigger difference in your overall health.

    Getting started and sticking to a plan can be difficult but setting attainable goals and pre-planning workouts can help you achieve your goals. Like many other things in life, your level of commitment to a strength training routine will determine what kind of results you get and how close you are to your wellness objective.


    Everyone who works in public safety, wants to be stronger or leaner, maybe weigh a little less; strength training can get you there. Beyond that there are many other ways strength training can impact your health in a positive way. It is an invaluable tool in relaxation, blow off some steam after a long day at work with a lifting session and you’ll be surprised how good you feel when you leave the gym. An added benefit, muscle burns more calories than fat even at rest, so if you are trying to lose weight you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much easier that becomes even if you keep your caloric intake the same.

    Your bones will thank you, as resistance training is one of the best ways to improve bone density and stave off or mitigate the effects of conditions like osteoporosis. It can help fight and slow down several major metabolic diseases like diabetes, by teaching your body how to use insulin more efficiently and lower your risk for heart disease by better regulating your blood pressure and boosting your good cholesterol. All of these are little pieces in the overall wellness picture, with the result being a healthier you.

    Getting started

    Beginning a strength training regimen can be quite difficult, especially if you have never really been into exercising before. Searching for plans on from authoritative sources (e.g. the American Council on Exercise), will give you literally thousands of options. But before you begin searching for a workout plan, set some goals. Simply ask yourself these three simple questions:

    1. What kind of physique do I want, do I want to be a mass monster like a bodybuilder or do I want a trimmer more athletic body?
    2. What’s my timetable to achieve these goals, do I just want to get in shape for the summer beach season, or am I trying to create life time habits?
    3. How much time and money do I have to invest in this process, depending on my work and personal schedules?

    If this sounds kind of daunting, it is. The answers to the above questions will help determine what kind of plan you should develop and where to begin. Here are two invaluable tips, keep it simple and just start doing it. 

    You can join a gym or work out at home but pick a few exercises that you feel comfortable with and focus on those in the beginning, there will be plenty of time later to add variation and complexity. And start, as you gain experience over time you will be able to better understand where you want to be and how to get there.

    Strength training is an important component in any plan to improve your health. Its benefits can vary from the immediate to subtler and long-lasting improvements in the form and function of your body and mind. Starting can be hard, with lots of choices to confuse you, but if you never begin you will never see the results that you want, so, keep it simple and just start doing.

     At the end of the day you want to look and feel good to be well, and this along with a few other pieces like a good diet and rest, will get you there.

    About the Author

    Ahrar ‘Sid’ Siddiqui serves as a Supervisor in an emergency communication center, with 11 years of experience in Emergency Management and dispatching Police, Fire and EMS resources. During his career he has served on Arlington County’s Diversity Workgroup, EOC, Vesta/Nextgen 911 committee and is currently a member of the IPSA Fitness and Wellness Committee.

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  • 14 Jun 2018 6:59 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    Application period closes on August 15. 

    The International Public Safety Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit based in Arizona, is recruiting for the position of Secretary. Our current Secretary, Communications Supervisor Jennifer Stewart with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, was appointed to serve on the IPSA’s Board of Directors during our Annual Meeting this past February. She is fulfilling her one-year appointment as Secretary and is seeking to pass the torch to an aspiring IPSA Member that wishes to get more involved with the IPSA’s leadership team.

    About the position

    The IPSA Secretary is a volunteer-based, Officer position with the IPSA. The position of Secretary requires the understanding and knowledge of the IPSA’s Mission and purpose. The Secretary must have excellent communication skills, both verbal and written, and the ability to interact with Board officials, directors, and the organization's membership, all of whom come from multiple public safety professional backgrounds.

    Candidates with previous experience serving on, or working closely with a Board, is preferred.

    The Secretary's duties include managing all the IPSA’s internal communications and preparing or keeping track of Board meeting dates, meeting agendas and minutes from the meeting. The Secretary will be required to attend all Board meetings to keep a detailed record of the Board's actions. The Board's actions during the meeting are later typed up and disseminated to the Board as a recap of the events and the votes or decisions that transpired during the meeting.

    In addition, given that this is a leadership position, there is an expectation that the Secretary will assist with membership referrals, fundraising efforts and be a champion for the IPSA. The level of effort is approximately 10 volunteer hours per month. 

    Other duties performed by the secretary include the following:

    • Attend all IPSA Board Meetings (most Board meetings are remote and the Board meets approximately once per month).
    • Keep at the principal office of the IPSA all records and ensure their accuracy and safety (e.g. Membership books, minutes and bylaws).
    • Capture, review and distribute Board minutes within 5 business days following each Board meeting.
    • Provide notice of meetings of the Board and/or of a Committee when such notice is required.
    • See that all notices are duly given in accordance with the provisions of the IPSA’s Bylaws or as required by law.

    Eligibility and other details

    You must be a current Active Level Member of the IPSA. If you are currently an Associate Level Member, you must upgrade your membership prior to submitting your letter of interest and resume.

    • This is a one-year appointment with the option for reappointment by the Board.
    • Appointment will begin in September 2018.
    • You do not need to reside in Arizona.
    How to apply

    Please submit a letter of interest and a current resume in a combined .PDF to Executive Director Heather R. Cotter at describing the following: 

    1. Why you are the best candidate for this position.
    2. Two professional references.
    3. Assertion that your supervisor approves and supports your involvement. 

    The first review of resumes will occur in August. This leadership position will be filled in September 2018. 

  • 30 May 2018 2:13 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    The International Public Safety Association’s Tactical Emergency Casualty Care vs Tactical Combat Casualty Care InfoBrief is authored by members of the IPSA’s Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS) Committee.

    Download the IPSA InfoBrief: TECC versus TCCC

    The IPSA is a 501(c)3 non-profit public safety association that represents all public safety disciplines: law enforcement, fire service, EMS, telecommunications, public works (water, sanitation, transportation), public health, hospitals, security, private sector, and emergency management. Our vision is for a stronger, more integrated public safety community capable of an effective joint response to all public safety incidents.

    The IPSA’s TEMS Committee includes public safety practitioner, subject matter experts and trauma-care physicians from around the globe. This committee is dedicated to advancing the IPSA mission and contributing to the professional development of the public safety community.

  • 25 May 2018 9:28 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Robert Mitchell, Retired Chief and Member of the IPSA's Memorial Committee

    “Rescue 22 respond to 2615 Kingfisher Dr. for a two-year old having seizures. Timeout 0345, Unit responding select Tac 6.”

    It’s 0345 in the morning. You’re on duty having just laid down for the first time this shift about 30 minutes ago. You’ve decided not to eat anything to try and get some sleep. You’re on the back side of a 48-hour shift which wasn’t much slower. As you stagger to the truck, you try to remember where Kingfisher Drive is. When you do arrive at the address, a mom comes running out the front door carrying her two-year old daughter in her arms. As you take the toddler you notice she’s kind of stiff and her colors a bit greyish. 

    In the back of the truck you assess the little one and determine that she is indeed having a seizure and she is posturing. Mom tells you she has no known history, no allergies, doesn’t take any medicine and she’s been like this for at least 10 minutes. As you have done a thousand times, you continue her assessment, treatment and transport. 

    The hospital is 10 minutes away and your partner makes it in five. There’s been no significant change in your tiny patient’s status the entire time she’s been in your care. You turn her over to the Emergency Room staff and get your unit back in service and write your report. You’ve done everything possible for this little one and you’ve done it right. You return to the station. Your shift finally ends. You go home.

    After the shift ends

    As you stagger into the house, your greeted by your two-year old who wants to do nothing more than play with you. Tears well up in your eyes and you can hardly keep it together. This is an all too often sequence of events for most of us in EMS, and sometimes it’s hard to let go.

    • Does this happen to you regularly?
    • What else is causing you stress? 
    • Do you have a healthy way to deal with stress?

    These are just a few questions you need to ask yourself to self-assess. Everyone knows the importance of diet, exercise, sleeping and staying hydrated. But is there more? The answer is yes.

    Recognition of PTSD in public safety is at the forefront of the media and in many states, their legislatures. The International Public Safety Association has done several webinars on the topic and even created a series of posters for agencies and individuals to download and post in their departments. This is fantastic news, but how is this going to help the EMS responder in the field?

    Collectively we have seen an increase in Critical Incident Stress Teams, Peer Support Teams, Chaplains and family training classes for spouses, significant others, and children that help to prepare them for what their responder maybe facing. Most responders don’t want to open to someone who has no operational experience in EMS or at the very least public safety. Having leaders who at least know how to recognize the signs of stress is a critical first step in getting help. As individuals we need to learn and understand that we may need help as well.

    • Talk with your family about your feelings.
    • Talk with a trusted professional.
    • Remember your spiritual needs.
    • Talk to your peers. 
    • Seek positive ways to release your stress like exercising, reading a book and even playing video games.

    Do yourself and your loved ones a favor, if you’re stressed, look for healthy ways to de-stress. Don’t be afraid to reach out, you are not alone.

    About the Author

    Chief Mitchell retired after 38 years of public safety service in fire, EMS, law enforcement and Emergency Management. He currently holds his Chief Fire Officer, Chief Emergency Medical Service Officer and Professional Emergency Manager designations.  He hold a degree in Professional Management from Nova Southeastern University and currently consults for a variety of different organizations.  Chief Mitchell is a member of the IPSA Memorial Committee.

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  • 22 May 2018 11:49 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    The IPSA created this new K9 Officer Safety Infographic for free download, printing and sharing.

  • 21 May 2018 5:21 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Jerry Steckmeister, Police Lieutenant, Westchester County Department of Public Safety, IPSA Fitness and Wellness Committee Member

    Anywhere that you find public safety professionals, you are sure to find hand sanitizer. It’s in their buildings, personal bags and vehicles. It’s always nearby as if it were a magical potion that can cure all ills. Sinks are often bypassed to get to the hand sanitizer dispenser.

    The main benefit to hand sanitizer is speed. It is quicker than washing hands and it is portable. When used properly, hand sanitizer can be an effective tool in protecting public safety personnel. But is public safety’s reliance on hand sanitizer sound? According to science, the answer is no.

    Most hand sanitizers contain alcohol, generally 60 percent or more. This is sufficient to kill most, but not all, germs. For instance, it is not effective at eliminating norovirus or Clostridium difficile spores. It is an essential tool in healthcare settings, where the primary threat comes from germs.

    What the CDC says

    Problems arise when individuals overestimate the power of hand sanitizer. As noted above, it is ineffective at killing certain germs. It also may not have an effect on chemicals, and does not remove dirt or grease. In fact, it may cause your skin to be more absorbent to certain chemicals, such as fentanyl.

    For this reason, the Center for Disease Control recommends hand washing over hand sanitizer in a non-healthcare setting. When soap and water isn’t immediately available, hand sanitizer is generally a good substitute, but the CDC still recommends that you wash your hands as soon as you are able.

    None of this means that you should throw out all of your hand sanitizer. Used correctly, it can be a valuable tool for hand hygiene. In a health care setting, when your hands aren’t excessively dirty, hand sanitizer can provide a quick reduction in bacteria. Outside of a health care setting, if you have access to soap and water, you should wash your hands instead of using hand sanitizer. If you might be exposed to germs, but do not have access to a sink, hand sanitizer might help reduce bacteria, but you should still wash your hands as soon as possible.

    Do not use hand sanitizer if you have been exposed to chemicals such as pesticides or fentanyl. Wipe excess chemicals off with a clean cloth and wash your hands. If you have a large exposure or do not have access to a sink, follow your agency’s protocol for decontamination.

    Public safety professionals have a wide range of tools at our disposal. Each tool is effective when used properly, but can be dangerous when used improperly. Hand sanitizer is no exception. When it is used appropriately, it can help us to stay healthy and prevent us from bringing unwanted germs back to our family. However, it is important to understand its strengths and limitations.

    About the Author

    Jerry Steckmeister is a Police Lieutenant with 19 years of law enforcement experience. He is also a Major in the NY Army National Guard. In addition, he is a Director on the board of the Westchester B.L.U.E. Foundation and serves as member of the IPSA Fitness and Wellness Committee.

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

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

    Download the IPSA InfoBrief: Interoperability and Unified Command

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

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

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

    Download the IPSA InfoBrief: Legal Aspects of TEMS

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Ability to adapt

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Ken Wallentine

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

    Here is a snapshot of some other responses:

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

    Virtual reality, active shooter scenario

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

    Safety apps

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

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

    Broadening the discussion

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


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

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

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

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

    About the Author

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

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