“BSI…the scene is safe!”
Are words that will forever be etched in the minds of anyone participating in a skills test for Emergency Services certification. At that moment, most of us say those words to get it out of the way; our true focus is on the actual skills we are testing on. “The scene is safe” is a very powerful statement, it can take on various meanings depending on the location and situation. Getting it wrong could bring a lot of pain and suffering and could even cost the lives of victims, rescuers, or bystanders. BSI stands for Body Substance Isolation, now known more commonly as PPE, Personal Protective Equipment.
Those of us who respond to incidents may sometimes grow numb to scene safety unless we are responding to something mildly serious like a multi-vehicle accident or calls where the police are also dispatched. Most of the time if the patient looks okay, we approach. How do we change this behavior? How can we promote the idea that scene safety is not just words to say to pass a skills test? As instructors, we have the ability to change behaviors. It would not add too much time to any course if we took an additional few minutes to speak specifically about what is meant by scene safety. Instructors should keep in mind that some of the students have never responded to an incident prior to taking the training. Therefore, they may not grasp the true concept of the dangers on a scene.
Pro tip #1
Set aside time to allow students to give answers as to what types of hazards they may encounter at various locations. Start off with something easy like the scene of a car crash. Answers may include traffic, unstable vehicles, or leaking fuel. Then move to not-so-easy scenarios where hazards may include angry parties involved in a fight, pets guarding their masters, and the patient becomes violent. All these situations will give the new responder a better idea of what they are truly looking for beyond just saying the words.
Pro tip #2
Train our students to always reassess scene safety. After saying those words, most of us think of them no more. It only takes a moment for what was once a safe scene to become unsafe. Students need to know that their safety is paramount to everything else, including patient care. Maintaining situational awareness and an escape route at every scene may save you and your partner’s life. If a scene becomes dangerous, back out. If you can take the patient with you, great. If not, someone will be back soon.
This article was written by ASM Lead instructor, Gerald Sloan, NREMT-B from Anderson, SC. Gerald works in EMS and teaches A Crash Course for the Motorcyclist, CPR, and Stop the Bleed. To learn more about Gerald or to get in touch with him, CLICK HERE