Advocates for Health Care, Training & Resources for Rural Officers

According to the CDC there are numerous health disparities in rural America compared to suburban and urban areas. Rural Americans, including law enforcement personnel are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke than their urban counterparts. Unintentional injury deaths are approximately 50 percent higher in rural areas than in urban areas, partly due to greater risk of death from motor vehicle crashes.

Rural law enforcement officers face the same challenges along with the communities they protect. Officers in rural areas have less access to mental health and emergency services putting their lives at a higher risk than law enforcement officers in suburban and urban areas.

There is a desperate need for additional attention and resources aimed at improving law enforcement wellness in rural communities across America.  The SRLEEA Officer Safety & Wellness Committee is working to advocate for better health services and resources for our rural law enforcement personnel.

Rural residents are also at risk because of the lack of health services. Most rural law enforcement agencies find themselves dispersed across large geographic areas. Most of the time, law enforcement officers are the first responders on the scene of a 911 injury or health emergency call. Many of these officers have little to no emergency medical training or equipment. Most agencies do not even have AED’s that could save someone from a potential cardiac arrest or heart attack.

All rural law enforcement vehicles should be equipped with first aid kits and AEDs and be trained on the proper use of the equipment. When a cardiac arrest occurs, there is a very narrow window of opportunity to resuscitate the victim. Research has shown that when the heart is first shocked by law enforcement, the chances of survival are nearly 40 percent compared to 28.6 percent when patients must wait for a “first shock” by EMS personnel.

People are alive today because of the quick actions of rural law enforcement officers but we must advocate for training, resources and equipment to help them save many more lives. 

Consider joining our committee to help improve officer safety and wellness for rural law enforcement.