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In the Public Eye: Ways for First Responders to Maintain Strong Public Relations

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By Allison G. S. Knox, M.A., B.A., EMT-B, professor at American Military University

Often times, first responders don’t contemplate the importance of good public relations. For some individuals, public relations have connotations that are anything but appealing. However, it is critically important for first responders to be keenly aware of how they present themselves because this can directly impact their own careers and departments.

Be Aware of Your Written Correspondence
Many first responders do not think about the importance of well-written letters or emails. Perhaps the writing standards of society in general have slipped in recent years, however, poor grammar, spelling errors and/or typos can leave the recipient with a negative impression of one’s professionalism. First responders need to be keenly aware of what they write and how they write it. Careless errors may demonstrate that an individual is not detail oriented, that they are not well educated, or simply that they do not care to take the time to write properly.

EMS ambulance patientPresent Yourself in a Professional Manner
Good public relations extends beyond emails and written correspondence though. For first responders it means demonstrating proper etiquette and good manners. The public generally wants an upstanding citizen to enter their home when they have called 9-1-1 requesting assistance. Beyond the tasks that first responders must perform in their respective duties, they must also apply concepts of good etiquette.

Treat Others with Respect
Good public relations also extends into the relationships between first responders. How a first responder treats his or her coworkers will go beyond the department. Further, the treatment of others will ultimately affect the culture within an organization and can shift a positive work environment into one that is rather negative.

Good public relations must be at the core of what first responders do. From emails and letters first responders write, to the way they treat their coworkers, public relations is ultimately a matter of professionalism and can have both positive and negative repercussions.

About the Author: Allison G. S. Knox, M.A., B.A., EMT-B is a faculty member at American Military University. She is also a faculty adviser for the West Virginia Iota Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society. In addition to teaching, Allison is an emergency medical technician and worked in a level one trauma center emergency department throughout college. She participates annually in “EMS on the Hill”, advocating for legislation that will benefit emergency medical services. Allison is also currently a Ph.D. Student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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