When It’s All On The Line: A Real-Life Story of Firefighters Under Fire

It just happened again.

A fire truck with its crew shows up to a fire alarm activation or a call for medical help only to be ambushed and shot upon stepping out of the vehicle or entering the home.

It makes sense, I mean how much better can it get if you are a person motivated to kill than to have your victim(s) come to the exact location you want at the exact time you want?

You’ll have time to set up the kill zone just the way you want it, time to position yourself in the ideal spot, and best of all, the fire truck isn’t going to sneak up on you.

They’re big.

They’re bright.

And they’re loud.

The set up is idealIf you’re the shooter.

About 10 years ago I responded to a call for a chest pain at a small home in what we used to call the “Knife and Gun Club” part of town. It was not uncommon to have drug related calls in this neighborhood, nor was it unusual to hear gun fire during the night.

In fact, the station that is located within the “Knife and Gun Club” neighborhood still has bullet holes in the bricks from stray rounds and a cracked brick were one man was executed against the wall of the front parking lot of the station.

It’s a tough area.

As I entered, I could hear the person in need of help hollering for us from the back bedroom.

Using the skills I had learned over the years, I advanced slowly and was shocked by the scene that was unfolding in front of me.

The home was disgusting.

Floors that had never been swept, garbage piled-up in the corners and along the walls, and flies circling the piles in the kitchen like it was a Vegas buffet.

As I entered the bedroom, pushing my way through the beaded drapes that hung across the door, I saw an individual in their mid-twenties lying with the covers pulled-up and bunched up alongside, but not over, their body.

I started questioning them about why they had called, scanning the room for possible clues. The call had come in as “sudden onset chest pain” but the room screamed “drug use”.

The first giveaway was the tin box lying open on a dresser, a spoon and syringe resting inside.

When I asked them about prior drug abuse, they quickly denied it.

Truth be told, this was probably due in large part to the arrival of the police officers who frequently tagged along on medical calls in the “Knife and Gun Club” neighborhood.

No?” I said, walking to the dresser to pick up tin box.

I have to tell you that I’m questioning your honesty with me right now.” I stated as I stumbled over something on the floor.

It was a box of shotgun ammunition.

All of my internal alarms instantly went off and I quickly asked him “Where is your shotgun?!

They didn’t respond, but rather quickly reached under the pile of sheets and pulled out a sawed-off shotgun.

Trapped on the wrong side of the bed from the door, I dropped to the floor.

My partner instantly bailed out through the beaded drapes while the cops both drew and fired their service weapons.

Fortunately for me, the gun got stuck in the sheets as he tried to pull it which gave the officers time to fire before they had a chance to square either of us up.

Not the victim in my incident, but similar chest injury.

It all ended in a matter of seconds.

And, just as quickly as I went from paramedic to target, I had to switch back from target to paramedic.

Now, my patient was not only suffering a possible heart attack.

They had a bullet wound to the chest.

As paramedics and firefighters, we know that we have jobs that put us into very dangerous situations. And while most people think that it is the firefighting part that is the most dangerous, we can at least see a fire developing and anticipate its next move.

Unfortunately, my story is only one of many in a chilling new trend of calling first responders, like firefighters and paramedics, simply to get easy targets to attack. And this trend is forcing fire departments across America to change the way they respond.

But, for now, firefighters and paramedics will keep coming to your door to help, and we do it knowing the risk, but knowing that more often than those we go to help will try to hurt us, they will appreciate our help and we will be glad we were there to help.