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No 'rule book' for EMTs responding to protests amid a pandemic

15 Jun 2020 10:13 AM | AIMHI Admin (Administrator)

CNN Health / Kaiser Health News Source Article | Comments Courtesy of Matt Zavadsky

Hats off to everyone helping to keep our communities safe on the front lines!

An added challenge for local EMS agencies is that often, ‘sponsoring’ organizations use freelance EMS personnel without coordinating with the local EMS agency.  This may cause confusion on-scene.

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No 'rule book' for EMTs responding to protests amid a pandemic

By Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Kaiser Health News

Mon June 15, 2020

 

 

(Kaiser Health News)  Emergency medical services across the country, already burdened by the high demands of Covid-19, have faced added pressure in the past week as they responded to protests ignited by the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police.

The need to protect themselves against the coronavirus adds another complication to emergency crews' efforts in these dangerous conditions. Their personal protective equipment (PPE) can be difficult to wear in a crowd, said emergency medical services officials. Plus, switching from that gear to equipment needed to shield medics from bullets, rocks or tear gas can be challenging.

Brent Stevenson, assistant chief of the Denver Health Paramedic Division, said facing a protest and a pandemic at once is uncharted territory.

"I don't think there was a rule book for me really to figure out what we're gonna do," he said.

In addition, many crews must overcome the fatigue caused by months of fighting Covid-19. In Dallas, some senior-level EMS officers have worked every day for the past several weeks, said EMS deputy chief Tami Kayea.

First responders are trained to handle emergencies in large events. And even though many protesters have assembled peacefully, the size and mobility of last week's protests surprised EMS officials in some cities.

"Any large gathering of people is unpredictable in nature, because it's just people," said Sean Larkins, superintendent of emergency medical services in Detroit. "You just never know what could happen."

An added consideration is how to distinguish themselves from the police and deflect any crowd hostility, several EMS officials said. In Oakland, California, the word "medic" is printed on the vests, said the private ambulance shift commander.

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