If you’re a firefighter or any other type of emergency service personnel you know how important scene safety is when you arrive for an emergency medical call, but what do you do when there aren’t any police officers to help you? While you might be there to save lives and property to some people you’re just another representative of government and that makes you a target.
The one thing you can count on with emergency service work is that is unpredictable, and let’s faces it you like that way because it keeps it interesting. You receive a call for one thing and it turns into another, and civilians seldom know what their talking about. Aggressively fighting fires, cutting apart mangled vehicles on a busy highway, and dealing with toxic chemical spills is dangerous enough, but there are also other hidden dangers.
Arsonists lurk nearby fires, people call 911 just so they can ambush the rescuers, and medical calls can get violent when people think aid isn’t being given out fairly or someone simply wants to finish what they started. In an ideal world the police are there when you arrive and have the manpower to deal with the any problem, but as you know conditions are seldom ideal.
In the 1990’s the city of Los Angeles began ripping itself apart in the wake of the Rodney King verdict and the city’s first responders were on the front line. Some citizens stood their ground and protected their property and cooperated with police and fire units while far too many others targeted them for retribution. Emergency service personnel were attacked and intimidated all over the city and things didn’t start settling down until National Guard personnel began flooding the streets. It was all out urban warfare and it can and will happen again in our major cities. What are you going to do when backup isn’t on its way?
It doesn’t take a riot for you to be put in harm’s way; it only takes the police not being there first. Now you’re not paid to fight, but you aren’t paid to get murdered either, so prepare yourself with self defense training and find out your organization’s policies concerning weapons. You probably can’t carry anything, but look at any fire engine and you’ll find spanners, axes, and halligan bars which all can become weapons in a pinch. Try to include these tools as part of your regular training, and try to get other members of your squad or company to take part in self defense training.
Now I’m sure there are some first responders reading this, and you’re probably saying that you haven’t had to defend yourself once in a twenty plus year career, but keep in mind there are police officers who have never had to fire their weapons either. You might be one of the lucky ones, but there are others who have had to fight for their lives. You just want to do your job and help other people then go home to your family, but there are some bad people out there who will take advantage of your kindness. Be the first responder who says they never needed their self defense training rather than the one who says they wish they had trained.
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