Firefighters and EMS workers are often the first responders to emergencies of all kind, putting themselves in danger not only from the circumstances they’re responding to, but also too often, the people they encounter as well.
According to this story from emsworld.com, concealed carry laws that would allow EMS and firefighters to legally carry on the job have been proposed in Texas, Kansas, Georgia, Florida, and New York—specifically because they are increasingly being targeted while trying to save lives and property.
The story says that first responders may soon have to make a decision about whether or not to carry, and it also provides some tips for dealing with guns on the job.
First, it warns first responders to never let carrying a concealed firearm lull them into a false sense of security, and to not approach a scene differently because they or their partner are carrying.
It also advises to treat a firearm like any other tool and to only use it when it makes sense to do so. “An analogy is how flight crews use night vision goggles. Smart flight crews never use goggles to fly into situations they wouldn’t fly into without goggles. The goggles are an assist.”
The article also advises any first responders who intend to carry to get some training.
“Thinking a concealed carry permit from your state is all you need to succeed with the new concealed carry laws is foolish. In all cases, more training is required.”
“If you’re carrying a concealed weapon, your partner needs to know. Or think of it this way—if your partner is carrying a concealed weapon, wouldn’t you want to know?”
Some emergency workers aren’t eager to add a gun and holster to their duty gear.
“I would be in favor of leaving guns in the hands of police officers,” said Fire Chief Bobby Tatum of Waco, Texas in this story from ems1.com. “We have a specific mission to save lives and property, and I think carrying a firearm would cross that line in that regard.”
Currently the Waco Fire Department prohibits personnel from carrying firearms, but the new bill introduced recently by state legislators would change that.
Others, however, are all for it.
“Being licensed to carry while on a call or doing a fire department function is no different than having the need to carry while you’re a private citizen at home,” said Jimmy Rogers, a volunteer firefighter in Waco. “Those unfortunate situations can arise at any time, even on fire calls. Even during a fire call, there’s sometimes a heightened threat there.”
“Mission Township and myself as a Fire Chief are supportive of the constitutional rights that are available and have been given to us,” said Fire Chief Forrest Walter of the Mission Township Fire Department near Topeka, Kansas in this story. “Our department does not disallow firefighters to have concealed carry. We’ve rolled people over in an unconscious state and they have a weapon underneath them.”
In Kansas, as of July 1, 2016, it was legal for medical first responders and firefighters to carry on duty thanks to Bill 2502.