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Monday, May 2, 2016

Hearing Protection

“Final check for ears and eyes!” The firearms instructor shouts those directions as she verifies that all of the officers on the shooting range have their hearing and eye protection in place. A nod from the safety officer confirms that everyone has their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on. Only after that confirmation does the instructor move on to the day’s firearms training or qualification. That ritual is so routine that most officers do not even think about it—it’s automatic.

But what about the safety check for PPE before an officer shoots an injured animal such as a deer that has been hit by car? Often those same officers forget or don’t think about using their safety equipment when they are not at the range. Why? Are they in a hurry, or do they not have the equipment with them in the squad car?

The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) officer injury statistics don’t tell us why, but they do tell us that many officers report hearing injures on these calls when hearing protection was not used. In addition to the officer shooting, it is sometimes an officer standing nearby that reports being injured.

The solution:

  • Make sure every officer has quick access to hearing and eye protection. Whether it is part of the squad car’s standard equipment or individually issued to the officer, this safety equipment has uses beyond the firearms range.

  • Follow the same procedures and use the exact same words used at the shooting range when shooting an animal. “Final check for ears and eyes” should be loudly announced so all officers can get their safety equipment on and prepare for the shot.

  • Designate an officer to be the safety officer to verify everyone has their PPE in place and to watch over the entire scene. It is very easy to be focusing on the animal with no one watching the big picture, including the perimeter or traffic.

Repeating the same words used at the range and having access to the proper PPE can reduce these unnecessary injuries. Eye and hearing protection is not limited only to one location.

Up Next: A Fire Truck with a History

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Medical Cannabis and Minnesota Police Officers

The Office of Medical Cannabis is a division
of the Minnesota Department of Public Health.
The Minnesota Medical Cannabis Act creates some issues for cities as employers—including police departments. The law contains some broad and important legal protections for employees who are approved by the state to use medical cannabis. Medical cannabis may be used to treat a variety of health conditions under certain controlled conditions, including Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, intractable pain, and more.

While state law allows the use of medical cannabis, police officers are still regulated by a few special provisions under federal law. Public safety employees who carry a firearm cannot lawfully use medical cannabis under federal law. In addition, federal law prohibits cities from providing firearms or ammunition to employees it knows or has reason to know are using cannabis.

This new area of the law can be difficult for police department managers to navigate. LMCIT has put together a memo entitled “City Employment Issues and Medical Cannabis in Minnesota” that covers all employees broadly—and police employees specifically. The memo can be found at this link:

It is important for employers to note that Minnesota’s medical cannabis law is unique from other state laws in the depth and breadth of its protections. As a result, non-Minnesota specific guidance on the issue can be misleading.

Up Next: Hearing Protection and Injured Animals

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Off-Duty Rescue

Pictured L to R: Officer Metcalf, Chief Stark, and
Ambulance Director John Fox
The headline in the Winona Daily News tells part of the story: “Wabasha police officer helps save life at basketball game.” Police officers save lives with some frequency, but it is exemplary when they do it while they are off duty.

On the afternoon of Friday, February 19, Wabasha Police Officer Dan Metcalf was getting ready to referee a game at the Wabasha Kellogg High School. He is the school liaison officer, and he also referees basketball games. As the game was about to begin, Dan heard fans in the stands calling his name and trying to get his attention. Wabasha Police Chief Joe Stark said, “It’s a small town, and everyone knows him.”

Metcalf went up into the stands and found a 64-year-old woman had collapsed and did not have a pulse. Metcalf and some of the people in the crowd carried the woman down to the gym floor. Metcalf requested that someone call 911 and get an AED (automated external defribillator).

Metcalf began CPR until one of the students arrived with the AED. He applied the AED and delivered one shock. It had no apparent effect. He continued CPR, and about a minute later the moment you always hope for happened. The woman gasped. She was regaining consciousness, and her heart had started working.

Metcalf stayed with her until the ambulance arrived. The woman was taken to the local hospital and then flown by helicopter to St. Mary’s in Rochester. She is doing well and has returned to work.

Dan received a lifesaving award from the city and from the ambulance service. The woman he saved attended the ceremony, and Ambulance Director John Fox used the moment to stress the importance of starting CPR immediately upon determining that a person is in cardiac arrest—as well as the quick application of an AED.

And yes, after the ambulance left, Metcalf went back to the gym and refereed the game.

Up Next: Medical Cannabis and The Workplace

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.