New Hazards

I am writing this several days after the attack on the Dallas Police Department. It is a sad state of affairs when first responders who pledge an oath to protect are targeted.


Currently we have seen most targeting against law enforcement. Even though fire and EMS workers have had serious situations our events are generally limited and end in somewhat peaceful results. However, it is time for us in the fire and EMS service to be proactive, as we do not know if or when we may become targets.

It is my personal opinion that we do something now. 

First and foremost, we all need to realize that there is a problem. As a whole the first responder community is more in danger than ever before. It cannot just be line workers that admit this. We need administration across the board to admit this. We need to be ready to consider things that before now we would quickly dismiss.

The next thing we need to do is to have candid conversations internally and externally. 

Externally we need to speak to our first responder brethren and see how they want us to respond with them. For example, how does the police department want us to respond to an active shooter situation where they are being targeted? Do they want us to aid in building a cold zone perimeter?  Do they want us to initiate a triage area? 

Internally there needs to be discussion as to how we should respond. This should include discussing if we can provide the response and needs of our partners from our external communication. We must also consider resources that have been somewhat taboo. I can say that as a firefighter/paramedic I have begun looking into the cost of bulletproof vests. Nothing should be off the table in terms of conversation to prepare us for what may lie ahead.

Another issue is to develop clear and defined protocols on responding. Our first responders deserve to have these protocols to guide their actions and on top of that they need training on how to implement these policies.

Overall what we need to do is to simply do something. Start the conversation. Aid in the creation of policy. Decide to be proactive on this. Our families and our first responders deserve it.

Until next time be safe!

David Hesselmeyer, M.P.A., has been in emergency services for 16 years. Currently he is a firefighter, rescue technician, paramedic, and North Carolina Executive Emergency Manager. Hesselmeyer is the owner and primary consultant with On Target Preparedness (OTP) which contracts with emergency services agencies and non profits to assist in risk assessments, plan writing, plan revision, exercise development, etc. He currently volunteers with Buies Creek Fire Rescue and works part time with Harnett County EMS. He can be contacted at or visit his website at

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