Fire/EMS Station is Safe Haven for One But Not the Other

As with many Fire/EMS Station across the Country, Prince George’s County, MD, Fire/Emergency Medical Stations are considered a “Safe Haven.” In addition to being a facility whereas an adult can surrender a baby within 72 hours of birth, our Fire/EMS Stations can provide temporary shelter to youth and adults with nowhere else to go for help. Personnel will provide assistance in the form of notification to the appropriate agency that can assist the person and arrange for transportation to that agency or facility.

Recently, one youth found safe heaven at a Fire/EMS Station and experienced a positive reunion with his family while another station proved to be anything but a safe haven for an unwelcome adult male being pursued by the County Police.

On Saturday, September 18, 2010, at about 6:30 am, “D” shift Firefighter/Medics at Fire/EMS Station #842 – Oxon Hill were about to be relieved by the oncoming shift when about 2 dozen police officers came running through the front of the fire station towards the rear exit. Police were pursuing an armed suspect that had broken into a nearby apartment and threatened the occupants with a handgun. While investigating another crime across the street from the fire station, police saw the suspect and initiated a pursuit. The suspect was last seen running towards the rear side of the station. An extensive search for the suspect was unsuccessful and police officers dispersed to other areas to continue their search. One officer remained at the station talking with the crew of firefighter/medics. The police officer had his back to the rear of the station and firefighters were facing him with a clear view of the rear of the fire station. Firefighters witnessed the suspect hiding in some shrubbery along the back wall of the station and immediately alerted the officer. The officer pursued the suspect while summoning assistance from other police officers on his radio. The suspect was soon apprehended. No “safe haven” was provided at Oxon Hill Fire/EMS Station on that morning.

At about 7:30 pm, Thursday, September 30, 2010, a Good Samaritan brought a 10 year old child to the Kettering-Largo Fire/EMS Station #846. The child stated that he had been locked out of his house and no one was at home to let him in; leaving him outside in torrential rains. Having the benefit of five personnel on-duty, one firefighter was assigned to remain with their young visitor while other personnel tended to emergency calls. Firefighter/Medics spoke to the child and were able to obtain phone numbers and were able to make contact with mom. As a matter of standard operating procedure the County Police were notified and dispatched to the Fire/EMS Station, however, the child’s mother arrived quickly and was re-united with her child with no further incident. In this case, Safe Haven was successful.

Prince George’s County, Maryland is a diverse and multicultural community bordering the eastern edges of our Nation’s Capital. The Prince George’s County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department responded to a total of over 130,000 calls for service last year. We are one of the largest and busiest combination Departments in the Country with 45 Fire/EMS Stations protecting nearly 500 square miles with a population of almost 900,000. The Fire/EMS Department is comprised of 2000 members including career, volunteer and civilian employees.

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