Jackson, Mississippi is back in the news, and Councilman Kenneth Stokes is at it again. Take a look at the video that I linked above, and reread my previous post on this issue. Why doesn’t Kenneth Stokes see what the problem here really is? Its not faster ambulance response, its a larger police presence.
The question at hand is should an ambulance respond into a potentially dangerous scene until it has been secured by the police department? My training and my gut both tell me NO. Kenneth Stokes recommends bullet proof vests for AMR’s staff, but a vest isn’t a magical suit of armor that will keep you safe.
The right angle to take of all of this is to promote safety at the scene. Bulk up Jackson’s police force. If the city is that unsafe that this has become so much of a problem, make it safer. Expecting AMR’s Ambulance staff to do some of the police’s work for them is unfair, and it puts more people at risk. But, remember, that would cost tax dollars. Its much cheaper to drag the Ambulance Company through the mud, encouraging them to drive into potential “war zones” and put themselves in the line of potential danger.
I looked up some information about Jackson, Mississippi. It ranks 4th in the nation for homicide rates per 100,000 residents behind Baltimore, St Louis and New Orleans. In 2009, it was ranked as the 23rd most dangerous city in the United States. If anything should scream for a larger police department, that should. It doesn’t give Jackson the portrait of being a safe city, or a safe place for EMTs and Paramedics to work.
What Councilman Stokes is doing is making it more dangerous for the Paramedics and EMTs in Jackson, Mississippi. He’s setting them up so that each time they walk into a scene after the police department, the perception could be “What took you so long?” Every time a truck is posting in a parking lot, or waiting for police to arrive at the scene, it will spark the question of “What are you doing? Are you just sitting here while someone needs your help?”
The career that we have chosen is not a safe one. We take risks every day, from the time you turn your lights on to respond to a call until you’re done restocking that truck and readying it for the next call. We deal with unpredictable patients, unpredictable drivers, communicable diseases, and encounter countless other issues that I could go on and on for pages about. In order to deal with most of these problems, we receive training. We go through CEVO. we learn the importance of PPE and BSI. We get restraint training. We don’t get training on how to deal with violent offenders, and clearing the scene of a shooting or stabbing. We aren’t told what to do when we drive into the middle of a riot just because someone is hurt.
No scene will ever be 100% safe. There will always be those unknown risks. There will be those armed bystanders, or that offender who is hiding in the alley just a few yards away, and I hope for everyone’s sake, that they never have to find out the hard way that that threat was there.
I once again invite Kenneth Stokes and any of his constituents to share their views as comments on my Blog. I also encourage Councilman Stokes to contact AMR and schedule a ride along so he can see what we are really dealing with.