You see a lot of cops on TV arguing about jurisdiction. Generally speaking, the set-up is that whatever group of cops the show is following is being squeezed out by someone else, claiming jurisdiction. The whole thing comes across as petty and political, and while's probably some truth to that, there are a few things I've learned about jurisdiction over the years, from my worth in the lab, in the field, and on the ambulance. ...Read the whole thing. Crime writing is one of the genres I've dabbled in the least, mostly because of all the real-world knowledge needed to suspend readers' disbelief. Few will find themselves thrown by descriptions of purely imaginary monsters or far-future cybernetic modifications, but there are millions of tiny details relating to law enforcement that can trip them up. That's why Nevet's article is so useful: It provides necessary technical knowledge from someone who works in the field and understands the writing craft.
When our pagers go off, we have four minutes to make it to the station and be rolling. Most of all calls are 911 responses and that means as soon as we're going, it's lights and sirens and high speeds. This is very dangerous, particularly when it's 3am and we were just woken out of our sleep.
So then, as we get close to the town, pretty often, all of a sudden, that town's local ambulance comes on the radio, says they're going in-service and are arriving on-scene. Our presence is no longer required or desired.
This is jurisdictional dispute. They were there first. It's their territory. But they were out of service, so we were dispatched and then took the risks involved in responding.
Postscript: Nevets has also written a primer on EMS protocols and jargon. Check it out.
(Picture: CC 2010 by Alex Holzknecht)