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EMS Concealed Carry Law: 5 Things You Need To Know

EMS Concealed Carry Law: 5 Things You Need To Know

Support for EMS and firefighters to legally carry weapons on duty is steadily growing.

Concealed carry laws have been proposed in Texas, Kansas, Georgia, Florida and New York. And other states are quickly preparing to follow the trend.

Why?

Because EMS and firefighters are increasingly targeted when trying to save lives and property.

Thugs target the uniform.

Any uniform.

The line between police, fire and EMS is blurred.

Critics say concealed carry laws will cause more problems than it will solve; however, many states are pushing ahead with legislation to protect their first responders.

What It Means For EMS

What does it mean for EMS and air medical operators?

That’s what this article is about.

Things you need to know about concealed carry laws to make smart decisions as a first responder.

Reality is that EMTs, Firefighters and other first responders will soon be forced to make decisions about their personal involvement with the new concealed carry laws.

Even if you choose to never carry, you may still work shifts with a partner who does. The more you know and understand the new laws, the better off you’ll be.

Below are 5 things you need to know about the EMS concealed carry law:

5 Things To Know About Concealed Carry Law

1.) Scene Safety Still Matters — A Lot

There’s a saying in air medical.

Complacency kills.

It’s true and it applies to both air and ground operators. What’s the point?

The point is to never let the ability to carry a concealed weapon lull you into a false sense of security. Don’t make the mistake of approaching an accident scene differently because you or your partner are carrying a concealed weapon.

The need to properly secure a scene never changes.

Don’t get complacent because you (or your partner) is carrying a concealed weapon.

2.) EMS Is Leveling Up

Regardless of your views on concealed carry laws for EMS, one thing is for certain—

EMS is leveling up in the EMS, fire and police triad.

EMS is included almost across the board in new legislation. This is a good thing.

If you work EMS, I don’t have to tell you EMS is sometimes forgotten (or excluded) in matters that affect EMS, Fire and Police services.

But that’s not the case when it comes to the new concealed carry laws.

EMS was included from the beginning and continues to be included in over 90% of all proposed laws regarding concealed carry.

Almost all concealed carry bills include EMS personnel from start to finish.

3.) Concealed Carry Is A Tool, Not A Guarantee

Remember that concealed carry is a tool. It’s in no way a guarantee of your safety.

Treat concealed carry like any other tool. Use it only when it makes sense to do so.

An analogy is how flight crews use Night Vision Goggles (NVGs). Smart flight crews never use goggles to fly into situations they wouldn’t fly into without goggles.

The goggles are an assist.

The NVGs are a tool to make certain flights easier. All the same rules of common sense and good judgment still apply.

A concealed weapon is a tool only used (or even considered) in extreme situations and only after all other available options are spent.

4.) More Training Is Required

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?

Even if you choose to have no part of carrying a concealed weapon on your own, it’s still in your best interest to know all you can about the new laws and how it affects you as a first responder.

5.) Hope Is Not A Plan

Hoping your EMS or fire station won’t be affected by the new concealed carry laws isn’t a plan.

Like it or not, concealed carry is law in some states, and coming to more states soon.

Learning as much as you can before laws are enacted in your state is the smart approach.

Knowledge is your friend.

Make smart decisions now. Decide what works best for your situation and start getting ready now.

What do you think? What’s your best advice for getting ready for concealed carry laws in your state? Let me know in the comments section below this blog.

Here is the audio version of this blog post:


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About the Author:

Troy is an Air Medical Career Expert passionate about a team approach to improving air medical safety from the ground up. Troy is a former Army medic, Army pilot, Coast Guard pilot and EMS pilot. Troy has taught hundreds of wannabe flight medics, flight nurses and EMS pilots the exact steps needed to launch air medical careers.

Comments

  1. Thank you for speaking out so openly on this issue. As a Police Officer, I have long preached that EMS need to be allowed to defend themselves. Many EMS are feeling like they have to wear body armor; EMS are being targeted. EMS need to be allowed to protect themselves when situations go south, or when they are directly targeted by bystanders. I’m not saying all EMS should carry. In fact, many in EMS don’t feel comfortable and would rather not have that responsibility. This is totally OK.

    The main thing, as you say, is that EMS remember their role. Scene safety and scene awareness needs to come first. Just like EMS don’t go running into a house fire with their fire extinguisher, EMS should do everything possible to leave the “fighting” to police officers who are better equipped and hopefully better trained. EMS should avoid and retreat from dangerous situations when the situation allows. However, a legal means to defend themselves only makes sense.

    • Chessieman,

      Thanks for taking time to comment and share your experience. I sincerely appreciate it.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds,
      Troy

    • Thank you for your awesome comment Chessieman! I am a paramedic in rural Arizona & work at an EMS agency that allows us to carry concealed on duty provided we have a concealed carry permit (which is not required under Arizona law as a Constitutional Carry state).

      I am an EMS captain & have worked tirelessly to spread awareness about this issue & the need for additional training. I personally was able to spearhead a privately funded training for our agency to go through a TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care) course to train us further on joint Law Enforcement/EMS scenes that focused heavily on Situational Awareness & protecting ourselves, our crews, & our patients.

      Our area of response covers over 350 square miles, much of it in very rural areas where LEO response times can be very extended. We all know the realities of going on calls where the dispatch disposition & what was REALLY going on at the scene were vastly different things &, though I have fortunately never had to even brandish my firearm, I am very grateful for the ability to carry it should it ever come to that.

      All I can say is you are so right Troy, Just being able to carry a firearm doesn’t turn you into an LE any more than having a fire extinguisher on the ambo makes us a fire company. Know your limits, practice Situational Awareness, & train, train, train!

      Thanks for this great article!

  2. I am a Texas Paramedic, that is former military, for personal reasons I have a Texas CHL. In Feb 26, 2013 a Texas Bill was introduced that was enacted on 17 Mar, 2015, after a Texas Dept. of Public Safety 40 hour CHL course will be allowed (CHL) concealed carry at work unrestrained.

    It was rumored, in the 1980’s due to the composite training, DFW and Pasadena Emergency Services were the only multi tasked personnel that allowed their personnel to carry. Over the years the rate of violence against EMS, Fire and Police has increased.

  3. As a paramedic, EMS Educator and former police officer I have seen this coming for some time.

    I think it mat be a necessary evil. However, I strongly believe that the required training should be above and beyond the basic CHL training for EMS personnel carrying in an ambulance. I believe that there should be extended training on weapons retention, basic close quarter defensive tactics and shoot/don’t shoot scenarios. A basic CHL class in Texas does not cover any of that. As a police officer I had to train quarterly in these areas and qualify with my weapon. If EMS wants to add that responsibility to our already full bag of tools, then we need to be fully prepared so that the deadly force option is considered as the last option.

    There will be many agencies that will fight this if it passes because of their fear of impending litigation. Maybe they could ease the minds of their people by at the least getting assistance to the crews in purchasing ballistic vest. There is tons of solid proof that these can be just as beneficial.

    I’ve heard many people say “vest only work if they are worn”, but the same can be said about a firearm, it only works if it is properly used!

    • I fully agree that before EMS is allowed to carry on-duty, they should have to meet the same basic proficiency as any LEO would. As for body armour…I just don’t see EMS agencies shelling out $2000-$3000 per employee for a properly sized and fitted vest, not to mention, I know some veteran EMTs & Paramedics that will balk at having to wear it. Especially here in a South Georgia summer.

      • Skip Kirkwood

        Not to be difficult, but properly sized Level III soft body armor can be had for $400-500 per set, if competitively bid. My agency has been providing it for all employees for > 10 years. Some balk at wearing it, but we use external carriers so it is “easy on, easy off.”

  4. Craig,

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I agree that training is key to success moving forward with concealed carry laws in EMS. It’s a big step for EMS and I understand the resistance. The reason for the article was to hopefully open people’s minds to learning more about policy that almost seems inevitable in today’s world.

    Thanks again for taking time to comment and share your experience. I sincerely appreciate it.

    Clear Skies & Tailwinds,
    Troy

  5. I remember when I worked in NYC crews got robbed for their drugs.

    A friend of mine who worked in the Bronx had a shooting victim get shot right in the back of their bus while they were working him up. Another friend walked into a stabbing as it was happening. Luckily he was able to put down and disarm the assailant, but I strongly support carrying.

    Things are getting crazy and the cops aren’t always readily available.

  6. Barry LaRock NRP

    Current education for EMS providers circulates around patient care and clinical aspects, I believe that before we arm our staff (which I’m not against) We need to have significant training focused on recognizing potential scenes of violence, and de-escalation techniques. Let’s train our people on not only avoiding being put into a bad situation, but getting themselves out of those situations without resorting to lethal force. Then, add hand to hand self defense. Once those skills are mastered, then introduce the next tool which is weaponry. If we put the cart before the horse, We’re doing ourselves a disservice, think back to basic airway control, we learned mouth to mask, then BVM, then airway adjuncts, then intubation, It’s like saying “hey, here’s an endotracheal tube, start carrying it and don’t use it unless you absolutely have to. If we have bad outcomes, we’ll look at adding laryngoscopes in a few years”. The point being, Start simple and work up, When the stuff hits the fan we always go back to the basics. Adding concealed weapons is becoming necessary but let’s train up on the basics first.

  7. Thanks for sharing this, Really good information.

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