Connecticut General Assembly Proposed Bill no. 6690

“To allow emergency medical service providers to carry a firearm if they have a permit”

Now, before everyone gets their knickers in a twist over this, the proposed bill will most likely die on the floor. If this were to ever be passed, there would have to be clearly define terms, regulations, and policies that are in agreement with the Department of Public Health.

That being said, this proposed bill is NOT suggesting that everyone fresh out of EMT class and medic school be armed, or that ambulances and fly cars now be equipped with gun racks and secure cases. What it DOES do is address the fact that EMS providers are ill equipped to deal with the increase of violent encounters in the field. Agitated, combative, patients; hostile, angry family members and bystanders, and having to respond to scenes that are not secure.

Why don’t you just wait for the police?

Police officers are not always available to respond or accompany EMS providers. Now, the police do a fantastic job keeping us safe, when they can. But they can not be everywhere at once. A seemingly “safe” scene has the potential to quickly escalate to a physically violent one. Even if the providers are able to safely “retreat” and call for assistance, it will be several minutes before an officer arrives.

There have also been instances of crews being intentionally ambushed, or even “mistaken identity” where the attacker meant to target a police officer, and instead attacked EMS. Many EMS providers have taken to wearing body armor under their uniforms.

How do we presently deal with those situations?

Retreat. Retreat. Retreat.

Most agencies give their providers very little leeway when it comes to self defense, and any type of defensive training usually is not offered. Providers are told that they must exhaust all means of possible escape before resorting to physically defending themselves, but any type of hands on, practical skills are rarely taught or exercised.

But are guns on ambulances and gunbelts on EMTs needed?

Ambulances, EMTs and paramedics are sent to dangerous and hostile scenes … to treat and transport patients. If EMS providers can not protect themselves, how are they going to protect and treat their patient? The circumstance where this bill would have the most positive impact would be the tactical SWAT teams that have paramedic and EMT members. In most cases, they are sworn law enforcement officers … but, once they begin care on someone, are they still an officer or are they a prehospital provider, and under the realm of local medical control and policies.

There are transport agencies that have the “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to weapons and firearms, and are called to transport a person placed under arrest and in police custody. The officer must secure their firearms when in the ambulance, while riding with the person in custody.

What about “Joe EMT” who has a concealed carry permit, and is able to protect himself as a private citizen … But once he pulls into the parking lot at work, is no longer allowed that right?

Again, as it is written, I am pretty confident that this bill will die on the floor. I am neither celebrating nor mourning whatever its outcome may be. However, it does shed light on a larger issue, and that is EMS providers do face violent encounters, and what can we do to better protect ourselves.

Kasey Iacovelli Brainerd

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"If you don't know what you're living for, you haven't yet lived.” – Rabbi Noah Weinberg