Safety Planning for Emergency Medical Services

By Phrantceena Halres

With so many headlines noting dangerous or even deadly occurrences, safety is on the minds of many no matter where they go–and that includes both public and private locations. That means paramedics and EMTs must now regard personal safety as an integral component of their planning and preparation. There are many things to think about that will help prepare, and hopefully prevent, any situations that could compromise the safety and security of those patients emergency medical teams may serve.

Here are a few tips for putting safety first:

  • Share the Knowledge: It is important to have open conversations about safety, security and emergency response. While no one wants to think about the worst case scenarios, it is must be done in order to plan properly and create contingency plans for all types of scenarios. The idea of knowledge sharing goes even farther. If a person hesitates because they think something might not be quite right, then they should talk to someone about it. Just think about the cab driver in the recent Boston Marathon bombing. He held the book bag but did not know that he passed off the bomb that eventually killed those at the event. He was simply trying to help get the bag out of the cab. However, every situation now requires more suspicion and, if that suspicion is there even as a passing thought, it should be discussed with someone else. It could mean the difference between safety and disaster.
  • Employ Your Sixth Sense: The Sixth Sense is the unseen. While we cannot see it, we can feel it and the results from it. Unfortunately, many people have lost touch with this sense because of hectic lifestyles that have people paying less attention to what’s around them and leading to a narrow focus of consumption. The imagination and creative process is put on the back burner while most of us just try to address short-term issues. In the meantime, there are people and groups out there that have nothing but time to think up terrible things and plan out their strategies. Having a mental strategy that anticipates what these terrible things might be and tuning into the world around us means that the sixth sense could be used to prepare for what could happen at a public event or a private home, as well as be aware of the environment and the potential of spotting any unsafe activity. If something does not feel right, then it should be addressed immediately because there is more than likely a reason for that feeling.
  • Keep it Simple: Focus on three or four strategies for safety and security, including visible emergency staffing, knowledge of chemical security strategies to identify any potential terrorist activity, and evacuation measures that are necessary for any type of bombing or shooting. Too many strategies mean that none will be done.
  • Be Proactive: Too often, strategies involve reactionary tactics rather than proactive ones. Get to know the floor plan of the area you are serving. Familiarize yourself with the available police teams in the area you are replying to, so you’re able to coordinate efforts in advance. Provide all participants with a plan that outlines precautions and need to be aware and alert as well as contacts in case of suspicious activity.
  • Take a Collective Approach: Everyone needs to be involved in personal safety– from the public to the EMT to the Paramedic. All have to contribute to ensuring safety. This includes those on-site medical service technicians who can serve as the eyes and ears and employ their sixth sense to be aware and alert to their surroundings. Each person involved should have an assignment or component of the safety preparedness plan.
  • Set Benchmarks: Always circle back at the end of an event and revisit how the emergency response measures were implemented and how well you and your team did under the circumstances so you can learn from each event in terms of what is effective or what should be improved. Safety and security is a learning process, which can be facilitated by reflecting upon what has been done in order to increase preventative action in the future.
  • Customize Your Plan: There is no one-safety-plan, which fits every emergency response. Every plan has to be unique because no event is quite like the next. There will be different locations, points of entry, number of victims and potential safety concerns. While the basic processes and tactics can serve as a framework, the other components will need to be adapted to fit the new environment.

While some advice with security might be to use common sense, that is not necessarily a formula for success in the day and age where some of the scenarios are things that might have never crossed any of our minds. From movie shootings to bombings at public events, we have to start thinking beyond the ordinary about what could happen even if it seems out of the ordinary and hard to imagine.

Anything is possible, so having a proactive safety and an emergency response plan that can be customized and involves all stakeholders in the event is crucial. Most importantly, it is about employing that Sixth Sense, which allows us to look at every situation on a different level and connect with those feelings that can mean the difference to all involved.

As founder, chairman and CEO of Total Protection Services Global, Phrantceena Halres leads the nation’s only certified security services company focused exclusively on high threat/close proximity safety and security services for the protection of critical infrastructure assets in the corporate, government, nuclear, energy and personal protection sectors. Through her philanthropic, community, corporate, speaking and media efforts, Halres is a lauded security and safety advocate who tirelessly works to enlighten the public on the many ways security improves our lives.  She may be reached online at

Phrantceena Halres


About Dan White

I'm a retired Paramedic and EMS Instructor with 35 years EMS and emergency medical product experience. I love canoes, cars and EMS. I have written a lot about EMS Technology on the Paramedic Blog, the Insights on Innovation column for, on and I can be reached directly at 573-240-0002.
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