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The Importance of Cold Weather Training for First Responders

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management degree at American Military University.

By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

This last week in North America has been a rather shocking one -- especially as temperatures have plummeted into the below-zero depths and the bomb cyclone brought with it a tremendous blizzard to the Northeast. Last year, North America saw similar temperatures.

But this year, new records were set regarding particularly shocking temperatures. Scientists have hypothesized for a while that climate change would bring with it extreme weather changes.

As the last few years have seen some surprising temperatures, it becomes increasingly important for first responders -- such as police, fire, emergency medical services (EMS) and other members of the public safety community -- to conduct cold weather training. This training will not only save lives, but will also allow for first responders to be far more helpful in the midst of a disaster, instead of becoming casualties themselves.

Cold Weather Training and the United States Military

A lot of what we understand in emergency medicine comes directly from the United States military and how they handle emergency medicine. In many respects, other public safety management concepts are also borrowed from the military and what they understand about preparation, response, and recovery.

For instance, the United States Army conducts cold weather training for soldiers, rendering them more effective during their missions. Why shouldn't public safety employees receive the same type of cold weather training to become more effective in any kind of emergency?

Scene Safety Is First Consideration of First Responders

One of the first rules of working an emergency is scene safety. Essentially, first responders should not enter a scene if it isn't as safe as possible. Otherwise, first responders may require more resources to work the emergency.

Because climate change brings with it extremely cold weather conditions, it is important for public safety employees get all of the training they need. For example, those first responders could be caught in extreme weather while they handle a car accident or some other type of emergency.

For cold weather, first responders need a keen understanding of appropriate garments they should wear during frigid temperatures. They should also know how to stay warm in extreme conditions. In addition, they should receive in-service training on life-threatening medical issues such as hypothermia, so they can better care for any patients suffering from serious conditions.

Cold Weather Training Is Essential to Protect Lives

We will continue to experience extreme cold weather associated with climate change. To properly safeguard first responders and the people they help, it is important for first responders to receive cold weather training for any emergency scenario.

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management degree at American Military University.

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.