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How do I deal with a situation where I need to flee?

As a caregiver, there are times when a patient or patient’s family member may become violent. The person could be naturally belligerent, or the patient’s illness may drive him to fits of violence. Either way, when you encounter violence it’s your job to protect yourself and other patients first. While it’s certainly the job of the management to provide a safe working environment, you need to be prepared for every contingency.

When a person becomes violent, the best thing to do is flee. Run away. It’s pointless to have two unhealthy people, so say as little as possible and get out of the room.

If the violent person blocks your exit:

1. Remain calm. Listen to what the person has to say. If you can, subtly signal for help.

2. Maintain eye contact with the person.

3. Stall. The longer you can stop the person from hurting you, themselves or others, the better.

4. Talk to the person in a level voice. Calmly ask questions about their concerns. Ask things like, “Are you sure you want to do this? Nobody wants to hurt you. Why do you want to hurt others?”

5. Attempt to keep the situation under your control by remaining cool, asking questions and listening attentively to the answers.

6. Don’t risk injury to yourself. Flee at the first possibility of escape.

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