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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some Things Never Change

Alexandria Fire Department, first motorized engine
Nearly 100 years ago, our state’s public safety community looked very different from today. In 1913, the fire departments were transitioning from the horse-drawn steamers to the early fire trucks, and almost all were open cabs with wood-spoke or solid wheels. Many of the police officers were wearing the double-breasted coats and the London “Bobby” style of helmet while walking their beat.  

Brainerd Police Department, 1910

But while the uniforms and the equipment have changed significantly since the last century, one part of the job has remained the same: when citizens are in trouble, they look to public safety to help, help arrives, and things get better.

It was also in 1913 that the State Legislature enacted a bill to form what would eventually become the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC).  The League (initially part of the University of Minnesota’s Extension Division) was created to serve as a resource and advocate for cities. In 1980 the Insurance Trust (LMCIT) was formed to give cities an option for affordable insurance that could be provided through a nonprofit insurance pool. (Don’t worry, there won’t be a test.)

White Bear Lake Fire Department, 1911

What does this have to do with public safety and the work you do? The League is once again responding to concerns—this time about public safety injuries and liability. This spring, I was hired to be LMCIT’s public safety project coordinator. Before joining the League, I worked in public safety for nearly 40 years. I have been a peace officer in Prior Lake, a chief deputy in Scott County, a firefighter in both Bloomington and Burnsville, and have spent many years over the course of my career collaborating with EMS and emergency management. I’m here to be a resource for you.

Because another part of your public safety work has also not changed over all of these years: firefighters, medics and cops still get injured on the job. Your work is often dynamic, rapidly changing, and unpredictable (and for many of you, that is a portion of the job you really enjoy)—but we cannot let that be the excuse for the number of responders who are injured. We can do better.

To that end, we at LMCIT have some ideas and welcome both your input and evaluation. My hope is that this blog will open up more communication on responder safety because:

Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next time…new EMS training for critical incidents.

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Moorhead Police, 1911

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