Safety in the Dental Office

This week, Beyond the Bite is featuring not one but TWO speakers for the 2022 Florida Dental Convention (FDC)! There’s a similar thread between the two — both blogs refer to safety, but in different ways. Ms. Keri Higby addresses personal safety, while Dr. Larry Williams discusses safety in a medical emergency.

Make plans to attend FDC2022, “Dentistry & Systemic Health: Mouth, Mind & Body Connection,” June 23-25 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando. For more information, or to search by speaker or course, visit floridadentalconvention.com.


S.T.A.R. (Safety Tactics and Awareness Response) in the Dental Office
By Kerry Higby, certified self-defense instructor

In 2012, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office created a Women’s Self-defense Program, now called S.T.A.R. (Safety Tactics and Awareness Response). This program has been tremendously successful in the community, as we try to educate women on how to maximize their personal safety.

We’ve built strong partnerships in the community through this program and have worked with a wide variety of organizations, including Publix, Hospice of the Comforter and Seminole State College, among others.

Our mission is to reduce the opportunity of violent crimes through teaching women how to increase their situational awareness, reducing the risk of becoming a victim and how to avoid confrontations. It’s important to realize that self-defense is 90% mental preparedness and 10% physical. The techniques and knowledge we share with participants gives them a sense of empowerment to help them become their own best defense.

It’s important for everyone, especially those professionals who have close contact with the public to remember these three concepts:

  1. Create a plan of action.
  2. Remove the risks of becoming a victim/target.
  3. Increase your situational awareness

Practicing and thinking about “what if” situations allow workers to have a plan in case they need to defend themselves. It is similar to the Run, Fight, Hide concept that is used with armed attackers and mass shootings. Designing your environment for optimal safety and security, when possible, helps to significantly lower the risk of becoming a victim or target. This can be done through crime prevention through environmental design. Securing/limiting office access, cameras and lighting are all examples that can help create safer business settings. Overall, the most significant defense one has is to increase their situational awareness skills everywhere.

Two self-defense techniques you can use to help in a situation is your voice by yelling. Attackers don’t want attention. By using your voice, you not only draw attention and may get potential help from bystanders, but you stay breathing instead of freezing or panicking. Another basic technique is to maintain your distance, if possible, from a potential attacker. Quickly scan the area that you find yourself in and be ready to run/escape.

Remember, if you think about what you would do in a dangerous situation, you will be more likely to react and survive, instead of being caught off-guard and panicking.

Ms. Higby is an FDC2022 speaker and will be presenting, “S.T.A.R. Women’s Self-defense Deep Dive” on Thursday, June 23 at 9 a.m.


Stop the Bleed: Safety in the Dental Office
By Dr. Larry Williams

Imagine coming out of your favorite downtown store and the security guard at the door is looking up. You notice other people around the entrance looking up. You look up and realize that a crane across the street has become unstable and is likely to fall. Before you and others can move to safety, the crane falls and sends debris everywhere. A piece strikes the security guard in the leg, and he immediately falls to the ground bleeding severely. The crash is over but everyone, except you and the guard, flees to safety and you are left standing and staring at the fast-expanding pool of blood next to the security guard.

What are your options?

  • Run away to safety like everyone else.
  • Call 911 and wait for help to arrive.
  • Call 911, realize you are the help until help arrives, make sure it is safe, and then work to stop/slow the bleeding.

Blood delivers oxygen to the organs, and a sudden significant loss of blood can lead to shock and eventually death. Experts agree that severe bleeding can lead to death in as little as 5 minutes. You need to figure out how to keep the blood in the body.

Techniques can include using pressure at the site of bleeding, pack the wound and apply pressure, using a tourniquet on the heart-side of the wound, and arterial pressure if possible. The “Stop the Bleed” course was created to address the above scenario, and to date, more than 1.5 million people have been trained to address bleeding. Do you want to learn more? Take my course at FDC2022, where I’ll be speaking on this topic and more!

Dr. Williams is an FDC2022 speaker and will be presenting several courses. “You Are the Help Until Help Arrives Deep Dive: Hands-on First Aid and STOP THE BLEED® Training” will be on Thursday, Jun. 23 at 9 a.m., and later that day, “Pharmacology and Your Dental Patient: An Update!” will be at 2 p.m. On Friday, June 24, “Geriatric Dentistry: Treatment Planning, Treatment Concerns and Communications” will be at 9 a.m. and “Tobacco, Vaping and Cannabis — What do you know?” will be at 2 p.m. 

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