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First Responders Need Special Training to Handle Incidents Involving Dangerous Animals


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Responding to any 911 call requires assessing the scene for safety. In many cases, a situation that might initially appear to be safe suddenly poses a variety of threats.

In Meriden, Connecticut, for example, a 21-year-old man was recently arrested for having nine highly venomous snakes in his possession. Police responding to the scene knew that the individual possessed the illegal snakes, but they did not realize just how deadly a threat they posed.

According to WTNH in New Haven, two of the snakes in the individual's possession were already dead. But a herpetology specialist had to come in and remove the snakes in a safe manner.

Nicholas Barnett, of the Animal Curator Children's Museum in West Hartford, told the TV station that if you get bit by a poisonous snake, “it doesn't take long for you to die.”

The case highlights the fact that the public safety community needs specialized training to deal with wild animals. While cases involving highly dangerous animals are relatively rare, they shine a light on an area where public safety professionals could use more training.

Safety Conditions Can Deteriorate Rapidly during Emergency Situations

First responders often enter situations that become unsafe at some point during the call. For example, they may confront an aggressive dog or an alligator in someone’s backyard.

These incidents are generally rare, but they underscore the need for specialized training in managing aggressive animals. Without this specialized training, it can be difficult for first responders to stay safe when they confront a potentially dangerous animal. Training for these circumstances provides a better way to manage incidents that threaten first responders’ safety.

In-Service Training for Dangerous Animals Needed to Maintain First Responder Safety

In-service training is one of the most effective ways of keeping first responders current on new techniques. It is also an effective measure to prevent first responders from being injured on the job.


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.