Control measure knowledge

There are situations that result in the exposure of a casualty to members of the public or the media; as a result, the casualty's privacy can be breached.

It is an important principle for all emergency services to maintain and protect the privacy and dignity of the casualty.

The benefits for protecting the scene from members of the public, or the media are:

  • Prevention of the casualty's identity being compromised, possibly to their relatives or friends, via the media (including television and social media)
  • Protection of the dignity of the casualty, especially if their clothing has to be removed for them to receive medical treatment
  • Avoiding unnecessary distress of other emergency responders, other casualties and uninvolved members of the public, particularly over a large scene
  • Protecting the scene affords a degree of privacy for the medical teams and allows them to work efficiently and without distraction

Some improvised methods of erecting screens could include:

  • Positioning vehicles to provide a visual barrier
  • Attaching equipment to street furniture or vehicles
  • Deploying personnel to hold sheets, tarpaulins or screens
  • Providing overhead protection to restrict aerial views.

 

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Scene screened off to preserve dignity of casualties - photograph courtesy of Rodney Vitalis

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Train their personnel on the important principle of maintaining the privacy and dignity of casualties and assign someone with responsibility to ensure this happens on scene
  • Consider providing fire and rescue service vehicles with the equipment that could be used to provide adequate screening at an incident involving a casualty, for example:

    • Salvage sheets
    • Tarpaulins
    • Canvas screens

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Consider screening casualties from the view of the public, media or other casualties
  • Use available equipment to provide a screened-off area for the casualty and medical teams
  • Consider the use of portable shelters to provide screening to casualties
  • Consider extending cordons to a sufficient distance to prevent photography or filming of the casualty