Clinton County Commissioners Approve Body Camera Trial For EMS

Clinton County EMS is seeking to implement body cameras for EMS personnel to aid with training and increase accountability through an initial trial period with Axon.

Clinton County EMS Director Steven approached the Clinton County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to discuss the approval of a contract with Axon for the EMS crews to utilize body cameras for training opportunities and accountability.

“We’ve been exploring how to facilitate an increase in accountability,” Deckard said. “This is something that I think the EMS nationwide has been lacking. One of the pathways we’ve been exploring is body cameras for EMS and EMTs.”

Deckard stated that the contract would permit a two-month trial for three cameras to be provided by Axon for the department without a charge and with no liability for the department. The cameras were described as HIPAA compliant as footage will not be implemented as part of the medical record, rather, the footage would be utilized as a tool to increase training and education opportunities and as a means to review the situation if a complaint is received.

The commissioners raised a concern regarding the implementation of body cameras as members of the EMS department may have reservations about recording the emergency services provided. Deckard stated that discussions within the department have been positive as employees have expressed their willingness to participate in the trial.

“Internally, we’re good for the trial,” Deckard said. “In speaking with another local first responder who was a part of their department implementing body-worn cameras, the discussion was taken about how everybody initially was saying no, and they had a lot of fear associated with it, and now in today’s world, you’re not going to work for a law enforcement department that doesn’t wear body cameras. That’s like the standard practice.”

Deckard continued to state that over 100 EMS agencies across the nation have implemented the practice of utilizing body cameras over the past few years, and the equipment and processes have been extensively researched to document the benefits and the potential setbacks.

“Ultimately, what I have a responsibility for as the department head is to ensure that we’re providing the most appropriate patient care and advocating for the 33,000+ citizens of the county and its visitors,” Deckard said. “It’s evidence based. It’s got a lot of research behind it.”

Deckard stated that during the trial, and if the county and department elect to continue the implementation of body cameras in the future, a new policy will be implemented where a patient may request for the camera to be turned off during the services provided, and the camera will not be reactivated unless necessary.

“If things go south, if somebody starts assaulting one our EMS personnel, then we can just turn the camera back on and protect ourselves with that data and that video to show the situation and how dynamic it was,” Deckard said. “The plan will be for our crews that when they get dispatched out, they’ll turn it on. When they show up on scene, they’ll keep it on unless they’re requested by the patient to turn it off. After we do transfer of care, we’ll turn it back off.”

The commissioners approved the contract for the trial period with Axon.