Ready for Visitors?

Open Doors

Spring is here and that probably means that the doors to your station will be open for some much-needed fresh air.

Ready for Visitors?We need to be aware that the public we serve may show up at our stations and offices from time to time. When that happens, will we be ready?


Security is a big concern with any EMS agency. Doors that are left open for air but remain open when no one is watching those doors can be a security risk. Let’s face it folks, our world is not the Norman Rockwell world our predecessors enjoyed.

Plus, modern EMS today is packed full of substances and equipment that are not only lethal but expensive. We’ve all read about equipment that has been stolen, drugs pilfered and even ambulance hijacked from scenes. We all must be very diligent and protective of the life-saving equipment we carry.

Be mindful that the guy walking into your station off the street may be carrying a weapon. He may have a motive that isn’t friendly, so we need to have a policy in place in every EMS station and office location regarding how we admit people on the premises.

When unattended the station needs to be locked down solid. Many station locations are electronically controlled and cameras are in place to track the comings and goings of people that move about our locations.


We all know that EMS must be conducted today with an eye to privacy. This means that we must direct the path of visitors. While we must have a welcoming environment when the public visits, we likewise must protect the privacy of the patients we care for.

HIPAA is alive and well!

Your neighbor can’t stop by to check on what the last run was. We can’t leave Protected Health Information (PHI) lay all over the desks where outsiders may travel when visiting our locations. Computer screens need to “sleep” after a few minutes, passwords must be secured and wandering eyes must be monitored.

Just like you would not wish for your private health concerns to become public, so do our patients trust that they will also be protected as well?

The Public is our Mission

Let’s say that we take all of the necessary steps to protect privacy, secure our locations and then someone from the community knocks on our door. How do we handle these visits?

You may think you are a community service, but you’re more like a business than a service. When we serve another person we have a responsibility to be welcoming when the public visits us.

Nothing is more dismissing than for a person to come into our areas from the outside and be ignored.

Common decency and decorum dictates that we treat any visitor with respect. Respect means that we acknowledge and address the person. It matters not how large or small a cog you are in the system, we are all servants and as such we must serve at every turn.

No individual should walk into our stations or office buildings and be felt to be unwelcomed.

The public is our mission.

We drill and train and learn and practice to save lives. We exist to alleviate suffering and malaise in our community. Study upon study shows that healing is hastened when the suffering patient is made to feel safe, secure and valued.

Does your EMS agency value the people in your community to the point that we trip over ourselves to welcome them when they visit? We should all assess the face we show to our community.

Be quick to say “Hello”… it matters not that you are in the middle of washing the ambulance, scrubbing the floors, billing out a claim or talking on the phone. Offer a nod, a smile. Shake a hand, pat someone on the back and most of all…don’t point and show someone where to go instead drop what you’re doing and walk with the person to the place they need to be.

Now you’re not only offering a friendly environment, you are being welcoming and at the same time you have control of privacy and security as you are by that person’s side every step of the way.

Now…you’re ready to keep the doors open! Happy Spring!

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