Today’s correspondent asks:

What is the difference between FIRST RESPONDER and FIRST RESPONSE?

I believe responder applies to medical/first aid and response applies to responding to fires/floods/police incidents etc.

Is there any clear cut legal definition (in Queensland)?

Language is an ever changing thing, as people invent or assign terms.  I am aware that the concept of ‘First Responder’ has grown in first aid/event health service circles as practitioners and companies adopt titles to distinguish skill levels, ‘First Aider’, ‘First Responder’, ‘Advanced Responder’, ‘EMT’ and, before 1 December 2018, ‘Paramedic’.    Those terms (other than ‘paramedic’ since the start of registration) mean whatever the person using the term wants it to mean.

So ‘first responder’ and ‘first response’ are just plain English language terms. ‘First response’ means the ‘reaction to something’ ‘coming before all others in time or order’.  The first response to a fire, flood etc is the first reaction.  First responders are those that respond first.  It is a truism that the first responders to nearly any event are not the emergency services but the people on scene.

In the emergency services context, first aiders may be badged ‘first responder’ but as I say, there is not ‘clear cut legal definition’ of what that means.  It means whatever the person putting the badge on the uniform wants it to mean.   In terms of ‘first response’ that may be a term of art in the fire, police and emergency services sector but how they use the term is a matter for them; again there is not legal definition of the concept.