Controversy: Should Paramedics & EMTs Be Eyes for Police?

 

 
 
 

Mannie Garza | | Friday, July 25, 2008


JEMS.com Editor_s Note: Read the following story and tell us how you feel about it by answering the poll to the right.

Under a trial program with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), fire andEMS responders in several major cities are being trained to watch for suspicious activities and report them to authorities. But in a story that appeared in newspapers nationwide in November, Associated Press (AP) noted that such programs raise ˙concerns about [fire andEMS responders_] standing as American icons and infringing on people_s privacy.Ó

On the positive side: Paramedics and firefighters -- unlike police -- don_t need warrants to enter people_s homes, which allows them to spot such things as gun caches, surveillance equipment, bomb-making materials and/or behaviors that could be signs of an impending terrorist attack. ˙We_re here to help people, and by discovering these types of events we_re helping people,Ó FDNY Chief Salvatore Cassano told AP.

On the other hand: This new role could endanger EMTs and firefighters if the public begins seeing them as arms of law enforcement. This concerned former JEMS Founder and Publisher Jim Page, who took a strong stand against using paramedics or ambulances as a covert way for law enforcement to gain entrance to a crime scene. In fact, the same week in November that AP broke the story about DHS training fire and EMS responders to watch for terrorists, someone threw a chunk of wood at an ambulance inNorth Bellmore,N.Y., shattering a window and injuring the driver. ˙Police said they believe the ambulance was targeted because the outside of the vehicle is covered with police logos,Ó AP reported.

When asked about the program, Mike German, a former FBI agent who now works for the American Civil Liberty Union, said the idea was reminiscent of the Bush Administration_s 2002 proposal to have letter carriers, telephone repair people and others, with access to private homes report suspicious behavior. ˙Americans universally abhorred that idea,Ó he told AP.

What do you think?Would you want to be trained to watch for potential terrorists and expected to report suspicious people or materials you spot in a patient_s home?


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Leadership and Professionalism, PPE and Infection Control, Legal and Ethical, Provider Wellness and Safety, Operations and Protcols, WMD and Terrorism

 
What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Mechanical CPR is Producing Resuscitation Results Beyond Expectations

Discover why clinical studies are finding mechanical CPR just as effective as optimally-performed CPR.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

New York Boys Rescued from Snow Pile

Plow accidentally covers Newberg boys.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Technology Helps Missouri Ambulances

Strategic GPS tracking helps in Springfield.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Profile: Hospital Wing Air Ambulance

Take a look inside this Memphis service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Violence, Arson in Ferguson

Crowds in Ferguson and elsewhere react to decision.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

California Bus Rollover

One killed and dozens injured.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Buffalo Residents Dig Out and Prepare for Flooding

Flooding expected as heavy snow melts.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >