Like a reanimated zombie you just can’t kill, the debate over EMS/Fire responders carrying concealed weapons (CCW) on duty is back on its feet. Kelly Grayson weighed-in on the Virginia issue over at his blog, and EMS World picked up another story out of Ohio.
This debate annoys me as much as the political banter of an election year, and for the same reason. Each side is so focused on their philosophical rants that they miss out on the conversation we should be having. It starts with the simple question, “Will ______ issue or policy substantially change my everyday life?”
For the issue of concealed carry on duty, the clear answer is, “NO.” Regardless of the CCW policy outcome in Virginia and Ohio, EMS/Fire providers will still face the largest likelihood of line of duty deaths (LODD) from cardiovascular disease and motor vehicle collisions. We are our own worst enemies.
But what about all the assaults on providers? We have to do SOMETHING!!
Absolutely. Action must be taken on a national level to teach EMS providers how to evade and defend themselves from the most common healthcare-atmosphere assaults.
Here’s where we can start the conversation that SHOULD be taking place. Take a look at the EMS section of The Secret List and the “Assault on Staff” log in the DT4EMS forums. You will find instances of providers being shot or stabbed. CCW may or may not have changed those outcomes, we will never be sure.
But you can be sure of something else. CCW won’t change the fact that EMS/Fire personnel will continue to get physically assaulted. Far more common are the “empty hand” assaults on providers who haven’t been trained in simple evasion and defense of said threats. According to the Use-of-Force Continuum, these assaults should not be answered with lethal force on the part of the provider via CCW. This may be a shock to some, but getting punched or kicked by a patient-turned-assailant doesn’t justify a lethal-force response.
The conversation needs to be directed toward first addressing the most common assaults. Training like Defensive Tactics for EMS/Fire is the logical first step. When we, as an industry, have taken steps to mitigate non-lethal assaults through basic training, then (and only then) we can begin having the lethal-force/CCW conversation that so many want to jump into today.