National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: It’s Just a Sick Person…

Several common themes appear in near-miss reports. Miscommunication, complacency, and decision making errors are frequently cited. The generic EMS call for a “sick person” is full of ambiguity and unknowns. On a percentage basis, these incidents turn out to be benign, uneventful, categorized as non-emergencies, and consequently we let our guard down.

“We responded to a non-emergency abdominal pain call. We arrived to find a patient walking around a parking lot with his pants around his ankles. When confronted, the patient stated he was hearing voices and having suicidal thoughts. We stated that the patient needed to go the hospital to be evaluated by a doctor…The patient continued to refuse treatment, so we notified the police department. At that time, the patient reached into his pocket and pulled out a knife…The patient advanced on our position, approximately 10 feet and then proceeded to…”

Many times we arrive at an incident like the one above and we have to rescript the call because it is nothing like what we were expecting. After you have reviewed this week’s near miss (CLICK HERE) in its entirety, consider the following:

1. How long would it take for law enforcement to arrive at the incident recounted above if the incident occurred in your jurisdiction?
2. What training have you received in handling violent situations?
3. Recount your last EMS incident that did not turn out as dispatched. What lessons can you share with your crew?
4. At what point does this incident switch from an EMS incident to a police matter?
5. What are your rights as an emergency responder when it comes to protecting/defending yourself in this scenario?

Have you been caught unaware at an EMS call? Submit your report to today and keep all first responders on their toes.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.

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