Newtown EMTs continue working despite grief

Newtown EMTs continue working despite grief

Newtown EMTs continue working despite grief

Whether emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are responding to a car accident or a burning building, they never know how bad the situation will be until they arrive on the scene. EMT training can certainly help first responders better manage their reactions and keep their cool, but certain scenarios can truly test EMTs’ mettle.

This was the case for many of the EMTs who arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14 – the date on which 20 children and six adults were killed in a deadly shooting at Sandy Hook. For those who currently hold EMT jobs or hope to one day, the men and women who did what was expected of them, despite whatever emotions they were feeling at the time, serve as an example of the sometimes harsh realities of this important line of work.

Feelings of helplessness
Members of the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps responded to a call at Sandy Hook, not sure if there was one or more gunmen still at large on the school grounds, NBC News reported. As time passed and more information came to light, these rescue workers soon realized their knowledge and skills would not be of much use.

“We’re waiting there with a triage area set up to take care of all of these patients … and when the call came over the radio to release all of these ambulances from surrounding towns and just hold the Newtown ambulances at the scene, that was when I think it hit most of us that our services were not going to be utilized at that point,” James Wolff, an EMT who responded to the call, told the news source.

Wolff and his fellow volunteer EMTs were in a difficult position, as they did not have an opportunity to put their skills to good use with the majority of those injured in the shooting already dead. Seeing the emotion on the faces of those on the other side of the police tape at the crime scene only made the rescue workers feel worse about their inability to do any good.

Coping with tragedy
In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, several of the EMTs are still torn up over the fact that there was nothing they could do help the 26 victims of the school shooting. According to WPIX-TV, 90 percent of Newtown’s volunteer ambulance corp is now in counseling.

“You wish you could do more,” EMT Sharon McCarthy told the news outlet. “You have all this training.”

Despite whatever troubling thoughts they may be wrestling with, Newtown’s responders are still prepared to respond to calls, as they typically receive around 2,500 a year.

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Firefighters need to know how to respond to calls on bridges

Firefighters need to know how to respond to calls on bridges

Firefighters need to know how to respond to calls on bridges

When people think of firefighters, images of rescue workers rushing into burning buildings may come to mind. However, as anybody who has ever completed firefighter training will tell these individuals, there is so much more to this line of work than merely extinguishing blazes.

For example, if firefighters work in areas where there are a lot of bridges, they may find themselves responding to calls on these structures, which can sometimes be difficult to conduct rescues on. This, in turn, makes the need for firefighter training drills involving bridges a necessity.

Bridge incidents can occur at any time
As the same cars that speed down roads also go over many bridges, there is always a chance of motorists being involved in an accident on one of these structures and requiring assistance from rescue workers. However, bridges are also places individuals who are looking to end their life might go, which means firefighters need to know how to rescue them as well.

Firefighters, as well as members of law enforcement, recently reported to the La Salle Street Bridge in Chicago, Illinois, where a man was threatening to jump, the Chicago Tribune reported. In this particular incident, firefighters managed to get close enough to grab the man and pull him to safety.

While this incident ended well, not all calls end the same way. For this reason, fire departments need to make sure their crews are ready for anything.

Kentucky firefighters prepare for bridge rescues
Before month’s end, the Big Four Bridge, a structure designed for pedestrians and cyclists, is set to open, according to WDRB. As fire trucks weigh too much to be on the bridge, officials from Louisville Fire and Rescue have been walking the bridge to brainstorm possible rescue options.

“We’ve got a utility type vehicle, possibly utilizing that as access from ground up to this area,” Lieutenant Colonel Glen Nally of Louisville Fire and Rescue told the news source.

In the event that there is a jumper on the bridge, Captain Jonathan Jones, also of Louisville Fire and Rescue, said firefighters will likely have boats in position below the bridge. No matter what happens once the bridge opens, local firefighters will be ready to respond, as they are currently undergoing training.

Awards highlight law enforcement officials’ hard work

Awards highlight law enforcement officials' hard work

Awards highlight law enforcement officials’ hard work

A special type of person has an interest in law enforcement jobs. A police officer’s commitment to enforcing the law and responding to calls, as well as his or her willingness to enter into high-risk situations, means this line of work is reserved only for the best and brightest.

Those who feel they still have a long way to go before they can truly say they are the best they can be can pursue law enforcement training. Beyond expanding their knowledge and skills, police officers can look to the accomplishments of their peers around the country, many of which are being recognized for their achievements as 2012 draws to a close.

Here are just a few members of law enforcement who have been singled out for their outstanding work in the line of duty:

Sergeant Jeff Dodson – Inspiring the next generation of police officers
Virginia’s Culpeper American Legion Post 330 recently named Sergeant Jeff Dodson of the Culpeper Police Department its Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, the Star Exponent reported. The local veterans group recognized Dodson for the work he has done with the Culpeper Law Explorers, a program designed to teach youths about law enforcement careers.

“Sergeant Dodson embodies all that we seek in our officers,” Culpeper Police Chief Chris Jenkins told the news source. “His desire to give back to the community through his work with the Explorers does not go unnoticed.”

Jenkins, who nominated Dodson for the award, said the sergeant spends countless hours educating today’s youth about the work law enforcement officials do. In return for his efforts, Jenkins said Dodson receives the “self-satisfaction that he may be helping a young person mature.”

Police Chief Randy Scott – Building a stronger police force
At the recent Strom Thurmond Awards for Excellence in Law Enforcement luncheon in Columbia, South Carolina, Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott accepted the 2012 City Officer of the Year Award, the Columbia Star reported. In the eyes of many, the recognition is well deserved.

“Chief Scott has built a first-class law enforcement agency for the people of this city,” Steve Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, told the news source. “Under his leadership, the Columbia Police Department is smarter, stronger, friendlier and more effective than ever before.”

Scott’s accomplishments are directly related to his philosophy for the Columbia Police Department, which centers on goals in the areas of community partnerships, customer service and crime fighting.

The Milford Police Department – Making roads safer
Rather than spotlighting the efforts of a few members of law enforcement, AAA Southern New England chose to recognize the hard work of the entire Milford Police Department, the Milford Mirror reported. At the AAA Southern New England Community Traffic Safety Awards, the Connecticut police department received the AAA Gold Award for the work it has done in the areas of traffic safety education and community enforcement programs.

AAA Southern New England did reserve a special honor for one member of the Milford police force, as Patrol Officer First Class William Simpson received the Traffic Safety Hero award. Simpson, who has been honored in the past by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, continues to take action when it comes to impaired drivers.

The chance of winning awards should never be a reason for pursuing a career in law enforcement, but these honors do show that many police officers’ hard work does not go unnoticed. Special awards also shine a light on the efforts of law enforcement officials who others in their profession can aspire to emulate.

Law enforcement works to keep the season merry

Law enforcement works to keep the season merry

Law enforcement works to keep the season merry

People across the U.S. are in the thick of the holiday season, which means many of them are crowding malls and airports, attending festive parties and enjoying everything else the month of December has to offer. As this is an especially busy time of the year, those who hold law enforcement jobs need to be extra vigilant to ensure that people enjoy the holidays without putting their lives, or the lives of others, in danger.

While there is still some time before Christmas, many police departments around the country are wasting no time getting themselves, and people in their local areas, ready so their year ends on a safe note. Here are two examples of what steps law enforcement are taking this holiday season:

Police provide holiday safety tips
For many people, the holidays that take place throughout December provide an excuse to throw a party. As a result, the odds that someone is leaving a gathering late at night under the influence of alcohol only intensifies when libations are freely flowing and guests are feeling festive.

Officials from the Department of Maryland State Police are ready for trouble on the roads, and recently issued a press release detailing the ways partygoers can reduce their risk of spoiling the season for themselves and the drivers they share the road with. The department urges motorists to not drive drowsy, drunk, drugged or aggressively. In addition, they should not text or make phone calls behind the wheel, follow other vehicles too closely or make unsafe lane changes.

Police encourage safe holiday shopping
Battling through crowds at the mall is already enough of a challenge for holiday shoppers. Alabama’s Troy Police Department want to make sure this seasonal activity does not take a turn for the worse, The Troy Messenger reported. Unfortunately, something as harmless as picking up a few presents can become quite dangerous, as there are always thieves ready to steal pricey items.

“Lots of people are out shopping at this time of year,” Sergeant Benny Scarbrough of the Troy Police Department, told the news source. “Something we all need to remember is it is best to shop in numbers. Know the place where you are going and know the entrances and exits. Also, remember where you park so you aren’t wandering around with packages.”

Of course, it is impossible for police officers to prevent everybody from getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, or mugging a shopper in a dimly lit parking lot, but with law enforcement training, they may be better equipped to respond to these incidents when they occur.

Firefighters must be ready to battle blazes in confined spaces

Firefighters must be ready to battle blazes in confined spaces

Firefighters must be ready to battle blazes in confined spaces

Most firefighters would probably agree that there is no such thing as an ideal blaze to contend with. Whether they are dousing flames in a burning home or a tunnel, there is always a chance conditions could take a turn for the deadly. Confined spaces are especially dangerous settings for fires, which is why fire rescue training focused on these types of situations are so essential.

Fortunately, many decision-makers at fire departments across the nation realize their crews cannot predict when they will have to respond to a blaze in a tight space. For this reason, they are providing these professionals with opportunities to receive this type of firefighter training before it is too late. Here are examples of just two types of drills departments recently organized:

Massachusetts training session highlights the dangers of tight spots
Many locations are considered to be confined for good reason. A manhole, for instance, is tight, but also not meant to be occupied, Richard Hartman, the lead instructor for a recent training program, told The Daily Voice’s website for Holden, Massachusetts. The drills Hartman was overseeing brought firefighters from Holden out to a sewage treatment plant where they ran through several scenarios. In one instance, rescue workers had to descend down a shaft in order to save the lives of two individuals who had passed out from exposure to hydrogen sulfide.

Hartman said that atmospheric hazards are firefighters’ top concern when working in confined spaces. As a result, they need to know how to check for hazardous materials and pull off a successful rope rescue, all while wearing the appropriate breathing apparatuses.

Texas firefighters venture into the trench
Another setting firefighters may find it hard to maneuver in is a trench that has collapsed on itself. Rescuing one or more people who have become the victims of trench incidents is no easy task. In fact, the Weatherford Democrat reported that a rescue can take anywhere from six to 12 hours in the typical scenario.

To ensure they know what to do if ever faced with an accident in a trench, firefighters from different departments in Parker County, Texas, recently completed several days of rescue training. Firefighters who participated grabbed shovels, ropes and specialized equipment to learn how to conduct a proper trench rescue. Each of the firefighters involved in these training exercises had at least three to four years of professional experience.

Police ask wireless providers to record and store text messages

Police ask wireless providers to record and store text messages

Police ask wireless providers to record and store text messages

Throughout the day, the average cellphone user may send a handful of text messages to his or her contacts. Some texts carry big news, while others are as insignificant as asking what is for dinner. However, something law enforcement officers understand is that law-abiding citizens are not the only people who own cellphones. Criminals also use these devices, and there is the belief that some of the text messages they send and receive could include incriminating evidence.

Law enforcement groups want access to text message logs
The world has evolved, and many law enforcement groups, including the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, National Sheriffs’ Association and National District Attorneys’ Association, believe the laws regarding people’s private text messages must change as well, CNET reported. Members of these groups would like to see Congress make it so wireless providers, such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless, record and store text information for at least two years.

Those who hold law enforcement jobs believe that not requiring these companies to store their customers’ text messages has the potential to hinder police investigations. After all, texts have been useful in many cases related to everything from armed robbery to wire fraud. The various law enforcement groups hope lawmakers will take their request into consideration as they update a 1986 privacy law.

“This issue is not addressed in the current proposal before the committee and yet it will become even more important in the future,” the various law enforcement associations warned, as quoted by the news source.

Concern exists over police access to text message logs
As should be expected, there are those who are concerned over wireless companies not only storing their text messages, but giving law enforcement increased access to their private exchanges. According to Fox News, many privacy groups are not pleased with the idea of more government in their life.

“I just think that’s more government control, it’s big brother,” Leslie Brown, a North Carolina resident, told the news source. “One more step into just total control of our lives.”

Courts are inconsistent in terms of cellphone evidence
No matter how people feel about police having access to text message logs, it is clear that judges and lawmakers nationwide need to be on the same page in this increasingly technological world.

“The courts are all over the place,” Hanni Fakhoury, a criminal lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, told The New York Times. “They can’t even agree if there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy in text messages that would trigger Fourth Amendment protection.”

In Rhode Island, a judge overseeing a case involving the murder of a 6-year-old boy criticized the police for using cellphone evidence without first getting a warrant, the news source reported.

Back in October 2009, Trisha Oliver called 911 after finding her son, Marco Nieves, unconscious in bed. Shortly after an ambulance took the boy to the hospital, his mother showed a police officer around her apartment, eventually leaving him alone at the residence while she joined her son. The officer heard beeping in the kitchen, where he found a cellphone with a text message from Oliver’s boyfriend, Michael Patino, who was soon charged with Marco’s murder. However, the judge for the case threw out law enforcement’s cellphone evidence, as the officer in Oliver’s apartment had no right to look at Patino’s text message without a warrant.

If anything, investigations into Marco’s death serve as an example of just how important law enforcement training is when it comes to viewing electronic evidence, such as text messages. As laws are updated, it is equally vital that police officers stay abreast of them, as even the slightest changes could make a difference in the way they conduct investigations.

New education requirements send Baltimore firefighters back to school

New education requirements send Baltimore firefighters back to school

New education requirements send Baltimore firefighters back to school

In order to join a fire department, individuals typically have to hold a high school diploma, pass a series of tests, complete extensive firefighter training and meet several other requirements. While most firefighters are not expected to have completed a bachelor’s degree program, more departments are requiring individuals who wish to advance their careers to earn this undergraduate credential, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

This is now the case for Maryland’s Baltimore City Fire Department, where an effort is underway to increase current workers’ level of education, as well as the educational standards of the department on the whole, The Baltimore Sun reported.

“It’s not your father’s fire department anymore,” Chief James S. Clack, a college graduate, told the news source. “In order to prepare the next generation of leaders, they’ve got to get formal education in addition to their experience in the field.”

In the Baltimore City Fire Department, tenure tended to outweigh academic credentials when it came to giving promotions. This is set to change over the next seven years, as candidates for advanced positions are being asked to take college courses and pursue additional training.

From Clack’s perspective, it is important to provide current members of the department with a chance to rise through the ranks and get a leg up over outside applicants.

“We have to get our folks ready to assume leadership positions in the future, so that we are promoting from within,” Clack told the news outlet. “If we don’t prepare our folks, they’re not going to be in these positions, which I don’t think is healthy for the department or the city. … I think we should be growing our own leaders.”

Despite the Baltimore City Fire Department’s good intentions, there is opposition to the new education requirements. Michael Campbell, president of the Baltimore Fire Officers Association, thinks asking firefighters to go back to school is “ridiculous,” going so far as to say they cannot fight fire with a book.

While the BLS states that many fire departments like to see firefighters earn bachelor’s degrees in subjects like fire science or public administration, Inside Higher Ed reported that non-fire-related credentials are also becoming more desirable. Individuals who possess strong critical thinking, public speaking and grant writing skills could be valuable assets to a fire department.

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