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Scene Safety

By Leonor Crossley

When emergency medical service personnel arrive on scene, certain precautions should be taken.
When emergency medical service personnel arrive on scene, certain precautions should be taken

While the duty of emergency medical service (EMS) personnel is to care for an injured patient, few realize the dangers that the EMS can face with when responding to a call. Refer to the EMS safety guidelines set forth by each U.S. state--normally by the department of health--for more thorough information.

   1. Know how to react properly in any kind of situation. Increased vigilance must be exhibited in scenes with violent patients or witnesses, with involvement of weapons and with hazardous materials in which patients have been contaminated.
   2. Do not approach if aware of weapons or violence until police have secured the scene. Do not move weapons unless they present a danger. If violence erupts, do not take sides, walk away backwards, find safety away from the danger and wait for police to arrive on scene.
   3. The Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends being well-informed while en route to an industrial or motor vehicle accident. Park upwind and allow for quick departure. Be aware of chemical spills or electrical hazards and call for other emergency personnel. Do not enter wreckage unless it is deemed safe.
   4. The department urges extreme caution when approaching vehicles. Park behind them, keep high beams on (if night), and call in a vehicle description, license plate details and scene assessment. Keep someone in the ambulance. Remain close to the vehicle, visually inspect the back seat, stop anyone seen reaching, and discourage exiting until instructed.
   5. When approaching a house, listen for commotion indicating a violent situation. Stand slightly to the door's side, knock, and announce the EMS's arrival. When being led inside, look for weapons, sharp objects and other dangers. Take note of the exits and keep them clear.
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