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Defensive Tactics for Fire and EMS Personnel?

How often do you hear about a Police Officer or Highway Patrolman injured on the job after being assaulted by an assailant? In today’s society, it seems like it is becoming more and more the “norm” unfortunately. But what about Fire and EMS personnel being assaulted? Studies show that Fire and EMS Personnel are being assaulted at an alarming rate. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, an assault on a healthcare worker is the most common source of non-fatal injury or illness requiring days off from work in the healthcare and social assistance industry. (EMS World Article) Again, why are these assaults not being reported and nobody knows about these incidents. I’m even talking about my peers that have been assaulted, yet I had no idea.

This past week I had the opportunity to attend a DT4EMS: EVE for Fire and EMS class. What is DT4EMS you ask…it stands for Defensive Tactics 4 Escaping Mitigating Surviving: Escaping Violent Encounters for Fire and EMS. This 16 hour, 2-Day jammed pack course was intense and very fun. DT4EMS was created in 1996, after Kip Teitsort found the need to shed light on Violent Encounters that EMS Providers and Fire Personnel go through on a day-to-day basis; yet with little to no reporting of the violence. He felt compelled to start helping providers in assisting them and created DT4EMS and is now a subject matter expert in Violent Encounters in Health Care.

Kip Teitsort, Founder DT4EMS

Kip started his EMS career in 1990 and is also a veteran Police Officer. Along with his training he obtained as an officer, he had a passion for martial arts – to date he is well diverse in several different forms of martial arts. He has a deep passion and drive in bringing awareness to EMS/Fire Personnel, along with Health Care Professionals, that it is okay to protect ourselves and to try and change the culture.

So why is it, that a primarily gun and gear site is talking about defensive tactics for Fire and EMS providers? Simple, we like to branch out and show content for everyone. I am a Paramedic. We have lots of readers that are First Responders, Health Care Providers (Nurse, Doctors, etc), and we want to shed some light on this subject and show the importance of training. Just like how most of the readers go to the range and train with their firearms and do drills – it’s important to train in real-world situations when you aren’t necessarily able to carry. Some people say, “well I don’t go anywhere without my firearm” or “I’m a CCW carry, I can carry every where” – well…I can’t carry when I’m on the ambulance. I am an avid gun enthusiast and this class really opened my eyes to the other incidents that can occur and the areas where I need to train more in.

As a brand new EMT, we were taught in class that my safety comes first, then my partner, then the patient. But when you hit the streets and are riding with seasoned Paramedics, you will try and emulate them and show them you can be “one of them” and get in thick of the action – which is not always a smart decision. In EMT class, the running joke was “if someone comes at me, I’ll just hit them upside the head with an Oxygen bottle or Clip-board.”

And in all honesty, this is the normal mentality that is being instilled in most EMT students across the country – the “I’ll do anything to make sure I get home” mentality. But not all situations are the same and you can’t use deadly force without it being reasonable. This is just one of the subjects that is being taught in this class. This class teaches real-world situations, gives you scenarios, and how to overcome the stigma that the profession portrays.

To summarize this class in one paragraph: DT4EMS gives us (responders) the ability to recognize a developing threat of assault, deflect it if possible, escape if practicable, and to defend if necessary. Just because we “clock-in”, doesn’t mean we can’t defend ourselves in a reasonable manner with reasonable force. This class teaches not only the tactics, but re-iterates the critical thinking skills we already use in every day situations.

For all my fellow EMS, Fire, and Health Care Professionals that are wanting to learn more about defending yourself and how to overcome this stigma that we can’t defend ourselves, then check out DT4EMS. This class is designed for all ages, sex, and skill leveled EMS/Fire Personnel – from the newest card carrying member to the seasoned vets. A few things I suggest you do if you decide to take this class is: come prepared with an open mind, wear comfortable clothes, bring water, have a  pen, and wear minimal jewelry.

DT4EMS is now offering classes for Fire/EMS, Health Care Providers (RN, CNA, LPN, Tech, MD, DO), Ladies Only (Ages 13+), Educational Staff (Teaches, Coaches, Administrators, etc.), an Advance Class, and even an Instructor Course.

As always, ya’ll be good and be safe!

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