Guns and EMS (2)

Thanks for all your responses to my post on Guns and EMS. A couple clarifications and further thoughts.

In Connecticut, where I practice, it is specifically illegal for EMS to carry weapons. Also, there are never supposed to be any weapons in the back of the ambulance. When we transport an injured police officer, his weapon is taken from him by other officers and secured elsewhere.

Connecticut is not a liberal gun state. We don’t see a lot of guns here, although we hear a lot of gun fire in the city. 16.2 % of our citizens own guns, ranking 46th in the nation. Curiously our death rate per person from guns statewide is also 46th. Hartford, on the other hand, is rated the 7th most dangerous city in the United States, more dangerous than New Orleans and Baltimore, but less dangerous than Gary, Indiana, and Camden, New Jersey.

The distinction is somewhat of a misnomer as while dangerous, Hartford is also small. We respond to drug-ridden neighborhoods, and yet just minutes away in other towwns, we respond to quite proper white picket fence neighborhoods with low crime rates.

A difference, I think, in guns and EMS between us here in Connecticut and other parts of the country is perhaps that on most of ous EMS gun calls (suicides excepted), or ordinary calls for that matter, there are not a lot of guns on scene. I imagine in other parts of the country it is perhaps impossible to walk into a room or respond to a car accident where there is not a private gun within someone’s grasp. Not very likely in our state.

While I said I do not own a gun and am quite scared of guns, I am not opposed to gun ownership. I believe in an active government, but I do not believe in an obtrusive government. I will gladly pay taxes for the common good, but I don’t want government either moralizing for me or telling me I can’t own a gun if I choose to. No bazooka, I can understand, but not a hunting rifle or a personal hand gun for protection.

As far as any of my partners having concealed guns on duty, I am still against it. While I have trusted all the partners I have had over the years to varying degrees from complete trust to never let them out of my sight and never let them touch the patient lack of trust, having them also carrying a gun adds a new complicated layer. I still don’t see a reason for it in our work. And, as I said before, I have trouble with the “I need it for safety” argument when on a risk/reward benefit, there are so many other things we can do to improve our’s and our partner’s safety that few people use. I have always found it odd that so many young heroes I work with will strap on a bullet proof vest, but wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a crash helmet on the job when they are far more likely to be injured or killed from head trauma in an ambulance crash, than they are to be shot. I worked with one partner who even refused to buckle her seat belt while she drove (she connected the seatbelt and put it behind the seat, but oddly insisted on locking the ambulance anytime she went three feet from it because it was the rule that we were to lock it when unattended. To each his or her own, I suppose, although I argued, not wearing her seatbelt made her a danger to me should we roll over and she become a missle headed at me, where I was less concerned with our laptops being stolen.

Finally, in answer to the suggestion that my not being drawn on in 20 years is somehow a reason that therefore a cop should not carry a gun if he is not drawn on for twenty years, I can only say, our jobs are different. Let’s say they were to make a movie about a police officer and one about a paramedic. The policeman movie begins with the police officer opening a door to see a bad man drawing a gun. You have the beginning of an interesting movie. What is going to happen? How will the police officer get the man disarmed? How will the conflict resolve? Now make the same movie with the paramedic. I will happily play the role of the paramedic. I open the door, I see the man draw his gun. I close the door. Movie over. As the credits roll, you see me running down the street as fast as can. Please dispose of any empty popcorn and soda containers on your way out of the theatre.

Peace out.

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