The New “First Responder”

Firefighters, Police Officers, and Paramedics have always been thought of as the first trained teams on scene to render aid in an emergency. However, with cutbacks in city emergency personnel, fire station closures resulting in larger geographical response areas, expecting professional emergency responders to arrive as quickly as before is not a given anymore. A typical average response time of 3-6 minutes in some areas now takes much longer, over 10 minutes in some locations. Minutes and even seconds count if someone is not breathing, is severely bleeding, or experiencing any number of emergency incident scenarios.

Out of a need to fill the gaps created with these changes, has come a new breed of “FIRST RESPONDER” which includes Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTS) as well as Emergency Response Teams for the Business and Corporate environment. These business Emergency Response Teams provide a valuable benefit for their company by providing an immediate response to all types of emergency situations including; fire (evacuation), medical incidents, hazardous materials spills, and disaster mitigation. These trained teams (often volunteer) provide immediate on scene management of all types of emergencies in the workplace until professional responders arrive. On some occasions, minutes really do make the difference.  

As a retired firefighter, I have witnessed first hand the benefit of having workplace emergency response teams in place. The control of severe bleeding, performing bystander CPR, a safe and orderly emergency evacuation, all potentially contribute to the best possible outcome. And the benefit to the company itself may include: lower insurance premiums, lower worker’s compensation payouts, and a quicker resumption to normal business operations. These specially trained employees often provide an atmosphere of positive business morale and a sense of workplace camaraderie.

One additional benefit, which is often overlooked, is that emergency response trained employees take their skills out into the world, providing a means to render aid to their family and friends, and their community at large. The new “First Responder” is a valuable asset not only to their workplace but to the population in general. The reality everyone is facing is the fact we, as a society in general, must adopt a preparedness mentality and become more self-sufficient as professional responders may not arrive in time to provide care when minutes can make the difference.