The class covered the proper steps that should be used to protect the first responders and the scene.
Duchock stressed the need for securing a scene and not getting “tunnel vision” by focusing just on the victim. He said that first responders need to take steps to ensure the scene is safe for them, such as watching for hazards, stabilizing the scene and always having an exit plan.
“You aren’t going to do them any good if you end up laying next to them dead,” Duchock said.
He also encouraged first responders to write an account of the scene and the details of the call immediately afterwards to help them remember the details if they are called to court. Things he asked them to note were the patient’s original position and injuries, conditions at the scene, lights, curtains, signs of forced entry, statements of persons at the scene and any statements the patient might make to them.
“Five years down the road you aren’t going to remember everything,” Duchock said. “And, if they catch you on something, a defense attorney will rip you apart.”
Duchock stressed to the responders that, if a patient dies, their dying words, or dying declaration, can be crucial in the court case.
A dying declaration can be used in court, while normally hearsay evidence is excluded. That makes recalling the words exactly an important detail.
He also said that firefighters and EMTs can help preserve the scene and case by documenting anything they move or by removing clothes and other items carefully and preserving as much evidence as possible.
Another important role that the first responders play in crime scene preservation, according to Duchock, is that they can limit the contamination of the scene by limiting the number of people allowed inside. This includes sending in only the number of people needed to treat the patient, securing the perimeter and not commenting to bystanders at the scene.
“The more people that come in, the more people become a part of the scene and the more contaminated the crime scene becomes,” Duchock said.