On the latest EMS Standing Orders Podcast, the panel discussed EMS scene safety issues and whether or not EMS providers should be allowed to carry weapons. One of the panelists was Eric Dickinson, whose article Survive Your Next Shift appeared in the July, 2009 issue of JEMS. Dickinson has experience in both EMS and law enforcement. On the podcast he stated that he believed people who have permits to carry a concealed weapon should not be prohibited from carrying while at work.
I have no issue with law abiding citizens, who have permits, carrying concealed weapons. My experience with EMS people, however is that the ones who most want to carry are the last ones who should be allowed to. They are the Frustrated Law Enforcement Applicants, or FLEAs.
FLEAs very much want to be a police officer, but are repeatedly turned down. Their resumes FLEAs often include work in security, probation & parole, and corrections. Then they get into EMS because they want to help people. And to ask all the cops when their department will be hiring next.
FLEAs have infected every EMS organization I’ve been with, and were most prevalent at volunteer and lower-paying McEMS agencies. They have nick names like Tackleberry, G.I. Joe, and Hurricane. They are the 1% who make 99% of requests for police because of hostile family members.
Until a police department makes the mistake of hiring them, FLEAs enforce laws from the ambulance. Nusring home falls become crime scenes, and elderly onlookers are warned not to get too close or they will be locked up. By whom, I don’t know.
Assessments become interrogations. So what exactly were you doing when your chest pain started? Mowing the lawn? We have a witness in another room who said you were just sitting here. So which is it?
On a good day they are annoying, on a bad one they are dangerous. A real police officer, who worked part time with McEMS, explained to me how the academy is designed to weed out FLEA personalities. And these are the people who not only believe that carrying a firearm at work is necessary, but that they are the most qualified to do so.
We in EMS need to take safety seriously. We need formal training in how to manage scenes and deescalate hostile situations and get away from violence. Skip Kirkwood’s JEMS.com article about safety is a good start. In the mean time, please don’t let FLEAs near a gun at work.