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How to help Omaha first-responders at an incident scene

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 10:42 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A lot of times when there’s an accident or even a shooting, many people think fast and share photos or videos. Omaha Police say that’s great because it helps get the word out — but say you shouldn’t stop there.

If you see it and even snap it, take it a step further and be aware of your surroundings.

That was the overall message at a demonstration of first-responders tending to a simulated shooting victim.

Omaha Police Public Information Officer Joe Nickerson reminded people that capturing the scene of a critical incident is fine, as you don’t stop there.

“Sometimes there are people filming with their camera phones or taking pictures... and no one’s taking the time to call 911 for several minutes,” he said.

With a severe traumatic injury, seconds count. Omaha’s first-responders say it’s imperative the public not to assume someone else made the first call to 9-1-1.

And when help does arrive, they urge you to stay out of the way.

“It takes a lot of people to save lives. It takes a lot of equipment, and we need space for that, and a safe environment,” Nickerson said.

Police said bystanders actually help more when they don’t distract first-responders, because that forces them to split their attention between the patient and a crowd.

“Due to comments being made, like maybe we’re not working fast enough — ‘what took you so long?’ — those things are all distraction to crews that are on-scene, said Omaha Fire Battalion Chief Robb Gottsch.

The same rules apply for OFD’s Fire and Rescue, who is encouraged to wait until a scene is safe to step in.

“Sometimes people can get a misnomer that we’re just standing by waiting for things to be completely safe,” an Omaha Fire Battalion Chief Robb Gottsch.

He said he wants the public to understand that even medics have to wait for police to secure a potentially dangerous scene before rendering aid.

Also remember that all actions taken by first responders serve a purpose.

“Don’t be alarmed when you see officers cutting or ripping clothes,” Nickerson said. “We have to get access to wounds.”

If you want to be of further help to authorities — especially if you’re a witness — stay in a safe location, and think about what details could help police: The who, what, where, when, and why make a difference when authorities are ready to gather information.

Police also encourage anyone who knows CPR or other professional safety skills to use them when appropriate.

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