It began even before Davis took the stage, with several news streams of EMS and firefighter injuries and fatalities. Davis gave a brief history lesson of EMS fatalities and the calls they were originally responding to. He showed multiple newspaper clippings that never made the mainstream media.
The statistics he used were also compelling. EMS is 14 times more likely to be attacked than firefighters. There were filmed interviews with Ben Vernon of San Diego Fire & Rescue Department and Jesse Hempen of Prince William County Police Department. Both gentlemen survived horrific attacks and shared chilling accounts of their ordeals, as well as their ongoing struggles with PTSD.
Davis’ intent is to prevent incidents like this from happening again. He stressed situational awareness and preparedness, and gave exercises for the audience to develop theirs further. He emphasized that the mission of police and EMS are the same, just using different tools and tactics. He said he is committed to the principal that safety is a personal decision, and your mindset must be firm from the start: “You will not defeat me.”
As an example of a tool to practice, Davis told participants to let their mind go where their body should never go. The thought of doing anything to ensure your survival, being ruthless, and having the will to survive were the aspects hit hardest in this moving lecture.
Davis also discussed the recent hot topic of staging for EMS and fire. Having your head in the game even when standing back is vital. You are responding to an attempted murder, not a shooting or stabbing, but an attempted murder. Giving the call this more accurate description can help with the mindset EMS must have every day: “What do I do if things go bad?” That is one of the takeaways from this presentation.
Davis presented aspects of communication and possible ways to de-escalate a situation. To remember the “don’ts” for de-escalation, he suggested the acronym TACOS:
Shame the individual.
Davis shared excerpts from an FBI interview of multiple killers and what exactly they were looking for in their targets. This was prompted after 53,000 officers suffered felony assaults. Possible tactics to prevent an assault and not fit the image of a target were aim, awareness, image, and mindset.
Davis was able to convey so much with personal accounts, very impactful audio and visual, and his own humor. My two favorite quotes were, “Change starts with you and your decision to be safe,” and, “You are somebody’s favorite person.” This presentation should be mandatory for all EMS and fire personnel!