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Working with First Responders in Drug Endangered Children (DEC) Efforts

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2020
1 page

This brief publication of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (DEC) provides guidelines for working with first responders in the context of drug endangered children (DEC).


This publication of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (DEC) summarizes guidelines for working with first responders in situations where children are endangered by drugs. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 defines first responders as individuals who protect life, evidence, property, or the environment during the early stages of an emergency, including firefighters, EMS, law enforcement personnel, medical personnel, utility workers, and public health professionals. First responders are often the first to arrive on scene; first to interact with children and families; first to gather information; and first to see things other disciplines may not. Some of the most inconsequential items observed, documented, and identified could be valuable information for medical professionals who are treating a victim who is injured or ill; child welfare in making decisions about the safety of the child and services for the family; law enforcement and prosecutors who may be building a case; service providers who may work with the child and family; and other professionals helping the child and family, whether short or long term. First responders may have the opportunity to identify children at risk or families in need of help. This identification is key in getting children and families the help they need.