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.
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, who may soon be forced to make a decision 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.
1. Scene safety still matters.
There’s a saying in air medical that 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 to 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.
3. Concealed carry is a tool, not a guarantee.
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.
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. Decide what works best for your situation and start getting ready now.
Troy Shaffer is director of the EMS Flight Safety Network.