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A Growing Trend: Training Ordinary Citizens to Handle Emergencies


By Allison G.S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Like any discipline, emergency management changes with the needs of society. Policies are created to manage society’s needs and help communities. As society changes, so will the policies that govern it.

As increasing numbers of people join emergency management as a discipline and profession and mass casualty situations continue to proliferate, post-action reports will reveal how emergency management has changed. Different needs will emerge and new situations will affect how emergency management is handled at all levels of government.

CERT Teams and Training Citizens on Handling Emergencies

Citizens trained in emergency services are desperately needed during minor and major events. A new idea – the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) – has put emergency services in the hands of ordinary citizens. In the United States, emergency management agencies have created CERTs with the idea that trained volunteers can help in emergencies and crisis management.

More importantly, CERTs provide more trained manpower to handle a first responder situation. These teams are becoming increasingly popular because they dramatically add to available resources during an emergency.

‘Stop the Bleed’ Program Helps Citizen Responders to Cope with Bleeding

The idea of training citizens in emergency-related topics also extends to concepts like the Homeland Security Department’s 'Stop the Bleed' program, which is similar to the American Red Cross and American Heart Association's Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation program. The Stop the Bleed program focuses on teaching ordinary citizens to manage bleeding emergencies – particularly emergencies resulting from active shooter situations. Having citizens with this knowledge on the scene can save lives before emergency medical services arrive.

The concept of training ordinary citizens to handle emergencies is also being adopted in London. As the Daily Mail recently reported, London cab drivers will be trained in emergency medicine.

The choice to train cab drivers is an interesting idea, especially because cabbies are located all over the city. Training these individuals will add a new and wider dimension to managing emergencies in London.

Ultimately, as more and more emergencies occur, new standards will emerge to help manage those emergencies. Right now, the trend of training more citizens to handle emergencies could not come at a better time, especially when emergency management budgets are tight.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.