The Invincible First Responder

#IWillListen ; #IWillTalk
#IWillListen ; #IWillTalk

#IWillListen ; #IWillTalk. The alert tone comes across the radio and dispatch announces that a criminal is in the street, carrying a fully automatic rifle and asking for you by name; or that a 50000 sq foot chemical manufacturing building is fully engulfed in flames; or a plane has crashed onto an interstate and there are injured people everywhere.

As the invincible first responder you are, you calmly announce across the radio channel that you are responding Code 3 and that no additional units are needed because you can handle this on your own.   

You have lost your mind…

Two things are happening simultaneously at this point: 

  1. Each and every person with a radio ignores you and they are responding to the scene.  
  2. Your shift supervisor has decided you have lost your mind.  Once the emergency is over, you will be standing tall in an office to discuss your poor judgement in the field and to be reminded that it takes a team to make it through a shift. 

When a first responder is facing the possibility of threat of physical injury the standard response is that everyone goes until the scene is stable.  I’d argue that we need the same kind of response to a possibility of threat of psychological injury.  Everyone goes until the scene is stable.  How many times have you heard a first responder go to a call that is likely to leave an operational stress injury such as a child death scene and when you ask how they are doing they respond with “OK” as they walk away.  Some of us may be afraid even to ask the question or may breathe a sigh of relief because if the response were anything other than “OK” you had no plan.

This “OK” may just be the equivalent of telling you to stay in service from a hot call where physical danger is assured.  You would not let your partner go to that type of call alone, so don’t let them walk away alone with that two letter phrase.  The time is now to change our response and make sure we are not doing it on our own by being en route to assist even if a first responder is not making a request.   Instill the principles of “I Will Talk ; I Will Listen” within your agency today.