EMS workers train to take on dangerous situations

It’s a widespread problem that the public doesn’t really seem to notice, EMS workers being attacked on the job. 

“Most people are like why would somebody want to attack a firefighter or paramedic? Not that it’s right and not that I agree but some people think well police officers are trying to take away my freedom or they’re criminals and that kind of thing,” said Brett Peine.  “Firefighters and paramedics are there to help so why would anybody want to attack them?”

Peine is the Director of EMS at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, MO and he is also a DT4EMS instructor trainer.

Michiana Healthcare Education Center along with DT4EMS is holding training sessions for healthcare providers to prepare them on how to handle violent situations that develop on scene.

“Our program is being used throughout the country,” said Matt Quinn.  “The DT4EMS is nationally and becoming more internationally known as a standard in self-defense training in the healthcare field.”

Medical workers are coming together from around the country for training.

“I didn’t know a lot coming in, but with the instructors here and the facility I’ve enjoyed everything,” said Damon Sutton.

Sutton is a Paramedic Lt. Detroit Fire Department EMS Division.  He trains a lot of the new recruits that want to work on the ambulance. 

Sutton and a handful of Detroit EMS personnel came out to Michiana Healthcare to get some training to take back to their department.

In October 2015, two Detroit EMS workers were attacked while on the scene of a call.  They were helping a woman who had an ankle injury and that was when the two workers were sliced and stabbed repeatedly by a man with a box cutter.

“Several months back we had a situation where two of our technicians were violently attacked.  They were cut and stabbed,” Sutton said.  “So we reached out to figure out how we can better prepare our staff to handle themselves in violent encounters.”

This weekend the DT4EMS crew is heading to Detroit to do an eight week training session to train 260 of Detroit’s EMS staff.

“Detroit EMS, Detroit city, taking these steps to train their staff, we applaud them completely,” said Quinn.

So what should a paramedic do when a scene becomes confrontational?

“The biggest thing that a paramedic or a firefighter EMT can do if they’re being attacked is move,” said Peine.

NAEMT studies say that about 50 percent of paramedics report being attacked.  That’s more than police officers.  A lot of paramedics don’t report being attacked because they feel like it’s a part of the job.  They’ve simply have not been taught to identify when a patient changes into the aggressor.   

“So I’m somebody who was attacked three times and never reported it.  I’m not a part of that 52 percent,” said Peine.  “So it’s a huge number and it’s an epidemic, it’s a true problem and luckily we’re finally getting some traction and some people are starting to recognize and acknowledge that it is a problem.”

With these training sessions spreading nationwide that could possibly reduce the number of attacks that happen. 

“For healthcare providers, for firefighters, a win in self-defense is to escape,” said Peine.  “We’re not trying to beat anybody up.  We don’t want to hurt anybody.  We’re not trying to submit our opponent.  It’s not a fight it’s not a competition.”

Training for the Detroit E-M-S workers starts on February 15th and will run for eight weeks.

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