With an increase in violent incidents in the Portland Metro area, and for the safety of employees, AMR has begun training their Paramedics and EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) in defensive tactics and the management of assaultive behavior. Each year, EMS (Emergency Medical Services) personnel respond to over 30 million calls for assistance in the United States alone, and have injury rates higher than the national average for all workers. Locally, reports of aggressive behavior and threats of violence have been on the rise.
In addition, Portland Police Bureau has nearly ceased handling behavioral health calls, leaving AMR, the primary medical responder, largely responsible. AMR is revisiting whether it is prudent to continue to be the primary behavioral health responder.
In May this year, AMR personnel from Clark, Clackamas, and Multnomah counties attended the first defensive tactics class. The training instructor, Marc Fox, President and Founder of Defensive Systems, Inc., in San Diego, California led the Train-the-Trainer class. Twelve EMTs and Paramedics received the training over a three-day period at AMR’s Clackamas County Operations. The newly graduated Defensive Tactics Instructors will train AMR’s team members in Oregon and SW Washington (~500 Paramedics and EMTs) with completion targeted for the end of this year. The training is mandatory for most of AMR’s field personnel.
“The need for basic defensive training is clear. The foundation of defensive/evasive techniques is not to forcefully incapacitate patients but provide for a means of escape for EMS personnel if they should become engaged in a physical altercation,” states Tim Case, AMR EMS Training Officer for Multnomah County.
“We want our Paramedics and EMTs to be prepared to defuse, escape, and evade attacks,” states Randy Lauer, Regional Director of AMR in Oregon, “Our focus is on their safety and wellbeing.”