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Cross-training first responders; a solution to EMT attacks

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - Two EMTs for the Johnson County Ambulance Service have been attacked on service calls in 2020, something the department's director just started tracking.

"It's something that hasn't been monitored statewide, that's why we thought it was important to monitor things on our scale," JCAS Director Fiona Johnson said.

Johnson says these altercations range from a head injury, to infections and possibly calming down people who might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

"Every call that they go on, they don't necessarily know what's going to unfold until they arrive," Johnson said.

Semin Park, an assistant professor and researcher at the University of Iowa, recently published a report on these attacks and ways to stop them. She says working with EMS University in Tempe, Arizona exposed her to the issue.

"I wanted to help them in some way," Park said.

Park and her colleagues found cross training different law enforcement and first responders together helped protect the exchange of information, and keep everyone on the same page.

"If we don't have a sense of systems together, it's not going to be really effective," Park said.

Johnson says first responders in Johnson County do a week-long, annual "Crisis Intervention Training" to prepare for these situations.

"It's that type of training that really is keeping first responders and our patients safer today," Johnson said.