In a policy change that has riled some, Fairbanks (AK) firefighters will be responding to calls about intoxicated people.
The new policy is drawing criticism from rank-and-file firefighters, who say driving possibly hostile people to the sleep-off facility at Fairbanks Correctional Center falls outside their training and job description, according to a report from the Daily News – Miner (http://bit.ly/GDPgBV).
Under the old policy, Fairbanks firefighters–all of whom have emergency medical training–responded to serious medical calls involving intoxicated people who were unconscious or unable to get up. The new policy, which has the support of the mayor and police chief, gives firefighters the added responsibility of being the first responders in situations where walking, talking intoxicated people might need to be transported.
Fairbanks Fire Chief Warren Cummings said the new policy, which was enacted last week, has meant an average of five additional calls per day for his department during the first three days of the program. If calls continue at this rate, it will increase the department’s number of calls by between 40 and 50 percent.
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Although there was no indication in this report that Fairbanks firefighters have had to deal with violence as a result of the new policy, it’s not uncommon for firefighters to have to deal with hostility when interacting with people at emergency scenes. For more on this issue, consider Assault: A New Reality for First Responders, PROTECTING FIREFIGHTERS FROM VIOLENCE, Firefighters and Violence : Nine Questions You Should Ask, and Firefighter Safety: The Violent Confrontation.