Armed EMS Should be Police-Based EMS

There’s been a flurry of activity about whether or not EMS should be armed.  WANTYNU started it on Facebook, Rogue Medic posted on this, and there was a great discussion on EMS Office Hours.

I have been in a few scary situations,  but have never wished that I had a gun.  I do wish I was more prepared to handle this situations, and think that scene management and verbal deescalation should be covered more in EMS education.

Before hearing the podcast about this, I saw an add for a position with Fire Service Based EMS Advocates.  Here’s a quote from their site:

It is critical that policy makers understand the importance of having emergency medical services provided through the fire service. Fire service-based EMS is prehospital emergency 9-1-1 medical response provided by the nation’s firefighter EMTs and paramedics.  

Due to the training, expertise, and equipment of fire service-based EMS responders, they are capable of simultaneously securing a scene, mitigating the hazard, and triaging, extricating, treating, decontaminating (if necessary), and transporting the patients who have been injured to an appropriate medical facility. Time efficiency is a key component of the best designed EMS systems. There is no service more capable of rapid multi-faceted response than a fire-based EMS system.

For the record, I believe that EMS has evolved into its own specialty.  I also believe that EMS providers carrying weapons poses much more risk than not carrying.  On Office Hours, Tim Noonan sarcastically, but too often correctly,  pointed out on that the psych screening for EMS is the failure of a police psych exam.

A violent patient or family member is not listed under the hazards able to be mitigated by the fire department, and I have encountered these situations much more often than the ones they list above.  If EMS has to be an ancillary service to an agency’s primary mission,  doesn’t it makes more sense to have cross-trained police officer paramedics?

Police-based EMS would solve the weapon and crazy EMS provider problem.  Anyone else with me?


  1. Tyler V (@CowtownMedic) says:

    I have a book called “Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion” by George J. Thompson. It is a great read regarding scene management and verbal deescalation. He teaches a course throughout North America and I believe EMS would benefit more from that course than carrying a gun. If EMS is going to start to carry a weapon we need to change our hiring practices.

    My two cents. Cheers!

    • emspatientperspective says:

      Thanks Tyler, I’ll check that out. The Gift of Fear (can’t think of the author’s name at the moment), and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell are very good also.
      I do not belive EMS providers should carry weapons either. I do belive we should treat scene management seriously in EMT classes.

  2. Verbal Judo is darn good.

  3. Arming the average EMS provider is a bad idea. Mainly it is a training, weapon retention issue. Then add the OODA Loop into the mix when it comes to tunnel vision and patient care.

    Verbal Judo is a great class. But…… It is not the people who can be reasoned with that are assaulting staff. At least not according to my records and research. Therefore talking while being punched, choked, bit etc is not the best choice.

    Riddle me this…… Why is it so many boots on the ground want to be armed yet most in admin don’t feel it is important to train their staff in self-defense? Don’t you think there is a disconnect here?

    • emspatientperspective says:

      There certainly is a disconnect. I’ve watched your videos, Kip, and believe that an EMS-specific self defense class should be part of initial and continuing education. We should learn how to quickly exit situations where we are being kicked and punched, and irrational patients should be chemically sedated when enough resources are available. Thanks for the comment, and keep up the good work!

      • From the educational side, that is a priority of mine at this point. We actually have several schools and academies in the works right now adding my system to their programs.

        There is so much more to EMS self-defense than just a few techniques. Trust me… I spent the first ten years of having people tell me there was no need for this type of training. Now many are jumping on the bandwagon. It’s all good provided we keep providers and patients safe.

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