“These are unprecedented times”

Author: Charley Hurley

(3-minute read)


It’s a phrase that many people say they’re sick of hearing and yet, the statement is quite profound when you really consider all that this country has been through over the past two years.

“These are unprecedented times.”

America has exited from its longest war (in Afghanistan) … schools are reporting significant challenges related to the well-being of their students … the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives … homelessness is at an all-time high … these certainly are unprecedented times.

Thinking about our public safety community – law enforcement, fire service, EMS agencies, and communications/dispatch center first responders – we certainly aren’t immune from any of the challenges that many Americans have been facing (neither are our healthcare colleagues). Our (individual and industry) physical and mental health have certainly taken an unprecedented toll.

First responders are, by nature, reactionary agencies. Citizens call 911 when they encounter emergencies requiring intervention and the appropriate agency responds. This common practice has resulted in a paradigm shift of thought, as we’ve learned that the way we’ve always done this — may not necessarily be the way that we should continue doing it.

What we’ve learned:

  • Standard law enforcement training and tactics are not the appropriate response to individuals suffering a mental health crisis.
  • Emergency department transport isn’t the best option, or necessarily needed, for all patients.
  • Scene safety is a changing dynamic requiring new definitions and examples of best practices.
  • “All-hazards response” has truly shifted to include “all-people response,” regardless of their chief complaint, illness, ailment, predicament, worry, or social need.

Looking at the horizon, we are all trying to find solutions to address these changes and challenges … Solutions that Matter.

PCG is certainly doing the same. We’re invested in our industries, clients, and people. We want them all to succeed during these unprecedented times – in hopes that what is seen as a seemingly negative time turns into a positive future … one of unprecedented (positive) change.

What does this mean for the public safety industry? What can we look forward to?

  • Addressing civil unrest – PCG is beginning a research & writing project supported by the U.S. Fire Administration to help chief officers, community leaders, and industry professionals best set-up their organizations for success when training for and managing these situations.
  • Building crisis intervention teams – PCG is working with various industry leaders and state officers to incorporate funding and operational support toward proactively reacting to crisis and mental health through early and regular intervention, rather than just through response reactions.
  • Promoting solutions in community risk reduction, mobile integrated healthcare – PCG has made recommendations in a variety of its projects related to community risk reduction (CRR), mobile integrated healthcare (MIH), and community paramedicine (CP) that are helping to address patients’ social determinants of health at the local level, as well as building networks to strengthen telehealth opportunities for funding and further sustainable revenue streams.

These certainly are unprecedented times … but that doesn’t mean that they have to be wholly negative times. At the very least, we – as a public safety industry – are recognizing some of our own challenges, as well as some of our own opportunities, to address in the immediate future. We’ve all heard the phrase that “there are two things that firefighters don’t like: change and the way it’s always been done!”

Well, in my 40+ years of experience in this industry, I think we’re finally and fully recognizing that the way things will be done, will be because of change … and we’re ready to turn our current unprecedented times into new (positive) unprecedented times.

Posted by Rachel Ray

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: