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Bill would allow TEMS providers to be armed in OH

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Article from MedCity News

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Bill Brady and I are on the Warren County team together, and helped craft the bill. The article is actually pretty good on the scope and intent of the bill. The byline suggests that the bill is to arm your regular EMT on the street, which it is not.

The bill addresses two main issues germane to TEMS in this state:

To be a peace officer in any capacity in Ohio, you must complete the full course of academy training (minimum 500+ hours, and typically over 700), and 5 months of full time academy is prohibitive for many physicians and other medical professionals who are working full time. There is no "reserve" or otherwise abbreviated academy in Ohio, nor "special deputy" status for anyone who has not completed the full course of training.

A lot of us do this for nothing, and there is difficulty in saying if we are municipal employees entitled to qualified immunity from litigation. Fortunately, it has never been tested.

We've had several (occasionally heated) discussions on the ACEP TEMS listserv about whether or not arming medics is a good idea, from a tactical or a legal perspective. The bill sidesteps that to some extent, leaving it up to the SWAT commander to decide if it is appropriate for their team size, op tempo, TTPs, and personnel. Citizens other than sworn LEOs are prohibited from carrying weapons in places like schools, court, government buildings, etc., and the TEMS provider would therefore be breaking the law if they stepped into that environment with a weapon. The bill would permit TEMS providers to carry a weapon openly as part of "official duties" with the SWAT team during an operation. The TEMS provider would therefore not be violating the law if they responded to an incident in a school with the team and happened to be armed. The bill does not give TEMS providers (defined as First Responders, EMTs, Nurses, and Physicians) police powers, nor does it permit them to carry wherever they like outside of a SWAT mission (this would be governed by OH CCW laws). By putting it down on paper, it helps the SWAT commander and police chief understand that by simply arming the medic, they aren't deputizing them or making them an LEO.

The second issue is that of liability. Many TEMS providers, including physicians, provide medical support on a volunteer basis, often to police departments that have no volunteers nor policies to govern them. A point brought up by many is that if we are not paid, we are not "employees", and therefore not entitled to qualified immunity. This bill would establish the qualified immunity, even if the provider is not getting paid. It is modeled off a law in Ohio that provides similar immunity to physicians who volunteer to provide medical support at scholastic sporting events.

You can see the text of the proposed bill here:

OH HB288

It would modify existing OH law. New portions proposed by the bill are underlined.

The bill will go to the public safety committee for discussion, and may undergo revision before it goes up for vote.


7.15.11 | Brandon Glenn

EMTs with guns? Ohio bill would give some the right to bear arms

Some Ohio emergency medical technicians could get the right to carry guns under a proposal in the state’s legislature.

This seems to be an increasingly hot-button topic among EMTs, who raise the issue as they struggle to cope with rough neighborhoods, threatening onlookers, violent situations, and armed and unstable patients. Skeptics, meanwhile, point out that emergency scenes are cleared first by the police or dispatchers, and adding a gun to the EMT kit would unnecessarily expand the job and risk of emergency workers.

Ohio’s legislation takes a narrow focus. House Bill 288 would give EMTs guns only when they went with SWAT teams. The law would also treat medical personnel like police in that they would have immunity from civil suits in connection with their use of guns when working with the SWAT team, said Republican Rep. Courtney Combs, the bill’s sponsor.

“It’s a bad situation if they call the SWAT team out,” Combs said. “For the protection of the medical professionals, they should have the right to carry firearms.”

That sounds about right to Dr. James Brown, chairman of the emergency medicine department at Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine, which has a Division of Tactical Medicine to help first-responders deal with high-risk situations.

“Personally, I’m a fan of it but the concern is what’s the [EMT's] motivation for being there? Is it just so you can carry a gun?” Brown said.

Brown acknowledged that there’s some controversy in the field of tactical medicine over whether medics should be armed. Brown believes the benefits outweigh the risks.

“If they’re armed for their own personal security, then that’s a good idea,” Brown said. “If they’re not armed, then the team has to task someone to be their security. Some teams are small and that winds up being problematic.”

EMTs wouldn’t be required to carry a gun under the legislation. The decision would be left up to EMTs and the SWAT teams they work with, Combs said.

Combs said the need for such a law was brought to his attention by his son-in-law, Dr. William Brady, an emergency physician in Kettering, Ohio, who sometimes works with the Warren County SWAT team.

The Ohio State Medical Association, the state’s largest physicians’ group, hasn’t taken a position on the legislation, a spokesman said. The president of the Ohio Association of Emergency Medical Services wasn’t available for comment. Combs said he hadn’t yet consulted with the emergency services group, but plans to contact interested parties within the next few months.

It’s unclear how many, or if any, states have similar laws. A spokeswoman for the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians said it advocates at a federal level and isn’t involved in state legislation.

The bill hasn’t been assigned to a committee and no hearings will be scheduled until Ohio lawmakers return from their break in September, Combs said.

Photo from flickr user mikejmartelli

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Regular EMS would avoid, or should avoid, the hell out of situations where you may just have to shoot back. But Tactical EMS, they should be armed. Aren't armed forces medics, et al., armed these days? Vs WWII era, where they weren't.

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Pretty impressive to see such a narrow-focus bill, that doesn't promise big kickbacks for the legislators, attain any momentum like this! Here I was thinking that Ohio sucks for not recognising Texas CHLs.

It is indeed a bad sign that the media attempts to sensationalise it into a white-herring issue though. A lot of ADD readers will walk away from the first couple of paragraphs with a completely inaccurate idea of what it is actually all about.

2c4, can you specifically define "regular EMS" for us? EMS varies so greatly from location to location that I'm sure we all have a different idea of what is "regular".

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A very complex subject overall and as Dust suggests highly political, the media / sensationalism does not represented in the correct light and with very clear safeguards in place The fall out could be disastrous for EMS overall, an EMS provider KIA or a bystander injured in a cross fire. Bottom line its really risky, all badness not being a truly deputized or LEO.

I am an advocate of lethal self defence for the properly educated and practised providers, those officially attached to an ERT. My argument(s) would be based as a result of current trends, very unfortunately the very serious alarming copy cat type of school shooting's or political rally's to increase gun control it just aint working and a very ironic and tragic situation with the Gabrielle Gifford shooting.

It s my understanding current practice has changed that in such situations the RCMP and armed LEO in major cities is NOT to contain and control off area's to prevent escape but any member's (typically 3) upon arrival,immediately enter and eliminate the hazard at all costs. I can not recall the specific details of the highly publicised "church shooting" where an off duty security woman who according to "media" reports did stop a potential massacre.

Can I realistically see this concept implemented in Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the UK, absolutely NOT in my lifetime, heck our new Sherrif's in Alberta are unarmed that is just dumb IMHO. We too have observed as in the US an escalating problem, meth driven armed robbery and gang violence.

I can say from experience in EMS that if I am requested to enter such a situation as a known shooting with injuries and if a Tac Team member is not escorting and standing over with myself and my partner, well good luck with that. I have a every right to "refuse unsafe work" better to be a live coward than a dead attempt at heroism, and no matter what level of body armour I am issued.

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Agreed with Squint - not a hope in hell that I am going into any situation that may require and firearm to protect myself. That is the job of law-enforcement, just as my job is to pick up and glue the pieces back together after the shooting stops.

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Getting past the acronyms of TEMS and ERTs (Tactical Emergency Medical Services and Emergency Response Teams <correct me if I'm incorrect on the translations>), I need a bit of clarification, here.

I understand not having EMSers being armed while doing "conventional" (for lack of a better word) EMS assignments. When doing TEMS, do the EMSers go to the local LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) headquarters to pick up a weapon, or get one assigned on the scene of a Tactical team's assignment, like regular LEOs might get assigned an M-16 from the "Tach" Team's response vehicle? I'm presuming that the "Tach" team's vehicle is akin to the NYPD's Emergency Services "Trucks", which are rolling arsenals, in addition to having a lot of Rescue gear aboard.

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Richard, that would vary by team and individual. Some bring their own, some departments provide them, depending on the weapon and the individual.

The bill neither requires TEMS providers to be armed, nor is any statutory permission required to carry outside of specific locations like schools and government property.


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Agreed with Squint - not a hope in hell that I am going into any situation that may require and firearm to protect myself. That is the job of law-enforcement, just as my job is to pick up and glue the pieces back together after the shooting stops.

Bullshyte. 100 percent of all medics who have been injured by on-scene violence will tell you that it was completely unexpected. There is no possible way for you to avoid all such situations. You're only avoiding the obvious ones. That only lulls you into a false sense of security. So when you get hurt, you can thank your woman's intuition.

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100 percent of all medics who have been injured by on-scene violence will tell you that it was completely unexpected. There is no possible way for you to avoid all such situations. You're only avoiding the obvious ones. That only lulls you into a false sense of security. So when you get hurt, you can thank your woman's intuition.

So Dust are you a proponent that every EMT and Paramedic should be armed ? Maybe your missing the fact that with North's legendary cat like ninja skills, I suspect he would have them crying uncle in a heartbeat, or subdued with his combat walker ... you choose ! <insert haunting evil laughter>

Now would that be sidearm or a 12 ga (my personal preference, well if I could just find a holster for my bat belt) for our "Furry Black Taliban" or Cougar (without a cell phone number) a far higher risk assessment were North lives than any pistol packing "gangsta" in Red Earth AB.

In passing with our Bruno's even a .40 cal would just piss em off worse, and on the Rez, well if they want to shoot you it would be from distance a 30-30 or a .303 Le Enfield its standard issue in every cabin.


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The legislation is not for every Tom, Dick, and Harry EMT. It is for those, who by job description, necessity, and intent go where the shooting is. And before anyone puffs their chest out to talk about the shitty neighborhoods they ride the ambulance into, it is only for those assigned to a tactical team and on mission.

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