Response Team Injuries: Are You Liable?

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Whether it's the latest change in CPR requirements and your personnel are using the wrong technique or a responder is trying something they're not trained in, you can't help but worry about whether you or your organization will end up being held liable for injuries. It doesn't matter whether the injuries are the responders or the person they're trying to help, expired or lack of certification can leave your organization open to a possible lawsuit. Here is some information on how to track training to minimize your organization's exposure to liability by using due diligence.

Are they trained?

The first question you might ask of a new recruit is what training they have had. When you're on site at an emergency, other things have a tendency to take priority to think about. Do you know whether they've been trained adequately in what they need to do?

What if it turns out that Bobby hasn't done anything with HAZMAT before? Or whether that team member really knows how to perform an emergency procedure or if he's just seen it one too many times on television and talks a good talk? If either of these examples ended in harm to the responder or the person they're trying to help, it can turn your organization from a hero to a zero as far as resources, public image, and political support go.

You'll need to track which members of your team have training and in what areas. You can do this using a team management system, spreadsheet or journal, but whatever method you use, you'll need to be able to access the information quickly and effectively whether you're at the office, at home or deployed in the field. When an emergency comes, you don't want public relations to suffer because you had to spend time reviewing qualifications instead of acting to resolve the emergency.

Are they current?

Another area that tends to fall by the wayside unless you've got an exemplary information manager is whether everyone's training is being kept up to date. If you track the changes in recommended CPR procedure alone, you'll find a dizzying number of changes. What about safely handling a car crash when someone's certification is out of date and there's a hybrid vehicle involved with leaking batteries?

Even if they do everything right, a trial lawyer will ask to see there certification and will make a day of it in court if the certifications are expired. Keeping on top of certification expiration dates is another area you'll need to stay on top of through use of a team management system, spreadsheet or other format.

Make tracking qualifications easier

Our team management system tracks what training team members have and sends reminder notices in advance of expiration dates so it's easier to keep everyone current. You can download a matrix spreadsheet to take into the field showing what training team members have and when their certifications expire. The interface also shows what percentage of team members are up-to-date with training requirements as well as how many people you have trained in a variety of specialty areas such as HAZMAT, emergency communications or search and rescue, making it easy to check if you're in compliance for particular response types.

Photo Credit: Firefighters with the New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing train to remove victims from a burning aircraft at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base on August 15, 2012. (USAF / Senior Airman Christopher S Muncy / released)

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