This policy has significant implications as to the future of EMS and fire response, if it became common to carry firearms while on duty. While there are safety benefits, and EMS personnel in Bethel Township say they are also more confident knowing they could defend themselves, it is important to recognize that police have extensive training and protocols on when and how to safely use their firearms. Police should still respond to EMS calls if there is any suspicion that the scene may be unsafe. Additionally, the knowledge that calling an ambulance also means calling several people who may be armed could negatively affect the public opinion of EMS. EMS is here to help the public, and for this to be successful those in need have to feel safe calling 911.
The policy is at the moment limited to a single town, and therefore not well known to the public. The article describing this policy does not go into detail as to the public opinion, but only the opinions of first responders.
This policy protects EMS and firefighters, a group not often considered a vulnerable population but often has to go into situations in which they are vulnerable to attack on very little information. The ability to defend themselves, although the policy specifically states that this is not an effort to stop sending police to medical and fire calls, can reduce the risk of responding to calls in areas that are known to be dangerous.
This policy addresses public health in that it can reduce the amount of time between a 911 call and the start of patient care if the EMS responders feel more comfortable entering a scene before police arrive.
This policy was created in response to attacks against non-police first responders, the effort to enable the responders to carry firearms was in part motivated by a 911 call where the caller faked a medical emergency and then took the firefighters hostage when they arrived. He later stated that he had chosen a medical emergency because he knew they wouldn’t be armed. This, and other incidents, began to affect patient care as paramedics no longer felt safe entering buildings without police.
This policy applies to anyone in the Bethel Township Fire and EMS Department that has an existing gun license and a concealed carry permit. It does not provide any additional legal restrictions or benefits in applying for a firearm license.
This policy allows Bethel Township, Ohio, paramedics and firefighters to carry concealed firearms on the job under existing gun and concealed carry laws. The implementation of this policy allows for each paramedic to decide if they want to carry a firearm and includes special training for anyone who decides to carry their personal firearm while on duty. The article states that paramedics and firefighters had been the victim of several attacks in which the 911 caller faked a medical condition or reported a fire in order to attack or kidnap the responders. This policy aims to provide a sense of security to responders as well as a means of defending themselves should the situation arise.