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Learning to Keep Your Head Down!
How not to get killed on the job! (Literally!)

We spend a lot of time on the safety aspects of doing the job we do.? From the scene size-ups in EMS to making sure the apparatus is not parked too close to the scene when attacking that tank fire in case that bad boy wants to go to boil over.? Trust me, at the last IFW conference in Beaumont, the boil-over demo made a believer outta me because that is a "feet don't fail me now, exit stage left scenario".? You tank firefighters are crazy; I'll stick to EMS thank you very much.? But back to the issue at hand, we do spend a great part of our training on how NOT to get killed IN THE LINE OF DUTY! We are always told, there is "no emergency so great, no catastrophe so large, that we cannot take the time to do our jobs safely".? Agreed.? We still lose guys, yes, in all aspects of emergency services, from Police and EMS, all the way to rescue and extinguishment; we lose guys across the board because the turf is inherently dangerous.? We accept it as part of the job and remain as the few that continue to "run toward catastrophe".? Ok, so now is this the only hazard we face at work?? Apparently not and this was a total shock to me.

According to the United Stated Department of Labor, in 2004 the fourth leading cause of workplace death was HOMICIDE!?? Out of 5073 workplace fatalities, 551 were homicides.? I was stunned, virtually shocked by what I was reading.? Now we all have heard the stories on the news and it was very apparent recently with the Virginia Tech shootings and the horrific loss of life on that college campus.? While not truly classified as a workplace (and possibly will not even be covered in the labor stats at some point) it was very apparent of the common aspects of the shootings that have occurred of this nature.? The incidence of this occurring in the workplace is also none too common.? We have all heard this on the evening news; even the phrase "Going Postal!" has practically entered the common verbiage to describe this form of aberrant behavior.? Now admittedly, not all of these homicides are committed by our co-workers, some are by the general public against the working public and the statistics do not differentiate, but there is real concern, regardless.? OSHA also has mandates that address this issue as part of the safety aspects for the workplace so you risk managers should also pay attention as these issues DO concern you if you have not developed a plan of action on how to deal with these problems should they arise at your place of business, whether internal or external.? OSHA claims 2 MILLION victims each year of some sort of workplace violence, so you better believe you are not going to be left out.

So, precautionary measures to start, immediately report suspicious persons or activities on property to the Police/Public Safety Office/Security, whomever it is you report those issues to.? Second, notify Police/Public Safety Office/Security personnel of any personal or relationship problem that has the potential to lead to violence, this includes the suddenly out-of-control spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, co-worker, etc.? Next, and this one is tricky, if there is someone in the workplace community that you know who is in emotional distress, please let a supervisor know so that counseling or other help can be obtained for the person.? I know the last one is difficult as it treads in very personal matters and often crosses the boundaries of confidence, so contemplative deliberation is called for here, but do not hesitate to help your friends when necessary.? Whenever an off property situation involving a member of the workforce that could spill over onto the property, please inform appropriate officials at Public Safety Office/Security.? Finally, any threats of violence or indications of volatile behavior, regardless of how insignificant it may appear, need to be immediately reported to Police/Public Safety Office/Security personnel.

So, if a violent situation presents itself, what should you do?? This type of incident is unpredictable, and your immediate response depends on the situation you face.? Individuals not immediately impacted by the situation are to take protective cover, staying away from windows and doors until notified otherwise.? If it is possible to do so safely, exit the building immediately when you become aware of an incident, moving away from the immediate path of danger.? Notify anyone you may encounter to exit the building immediately.? Evacuate to a safe area away from the danger, and take protective cover.? Stay there until assistance arrives.

If you are directly involved in an incident and exiting the building is not possible, the following actions are recommended:

1.? Go to the nearest room or office.

2.? Close and lock the door.

3.? Turn off the lights

4.? Seek protective cover.

5.? Keep quiet and act as if no one is in the room.


7.? If possible call 911 and Public Safety Office/Security personnel if it is safe to do so, providing each dispatcher with the following information:

??? a. Your name

??? b. Your location (be as specific as possible)

??? c. Number of shooters (if known)

??? d. Identification or description of shooter

??? e. Number of persons who may be involved

??? f. Injuries if known

Hopefully this type of situation will not present itself at your place of employment and you will never be faced with having to make certain decisions regarding your fellow co-workers.? Just in case, some of these simple guidelines might come in handy should the need arise.? If you need to, visit the OSHA web site at for all the details about what requirements you may need to meet and for some further information about workplace violence.?

Many thanks to Sandy Seda, Chief of Police at CCSN and the CCSN Police for supplying the valuable information contained in this article.? They were a big help and a valuable resource.? We are going through a name change here at CCSN.? This is my last article under that institution's namesake.?

We are the College of Southern Nevada as of 1 July, 2007!


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