EMT's and fire fighters risk their lives every day to save lives and property.
Now some states are proposing legislation that would allow EMT's to bear arms. In urban metro areas like Washington, DC, fire fighters are being asked to expand their duties by serving as “crime fighters” this summer.
Municipalities in Michigan are eager to combine fire and police into single Public Safety Officer (PSO) departments – giving fire fighters and paramedics guns and police officers hoses. City leaders maintain that cross-training fire fighters and police will help cut costs. Just recently, the Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union conducted a successful campaign to convince voters in Harper Woods Jackson to vote no on PSOs.
In Ohio, legislation has been proposed that would allow emergency medical technicians to carry guns when accompanying SWAT teams on calls. Representative Courtney Combs, the sponsor of House Bill 288, says EMT's wouldn’t be required to carry a gun under the legislation. The decision would be left to EMT's and the SWAT teams they work with to decide. House Bill 288 would treat emergency medical personnel like police, providing them immunity from civil suits in connection with their use of guns when working with the SWAT teams.
These issues are creating heated debate as to what role fire fighters and emergency medical personnel should play in their communities.
The Ohio legislation comes one week after reports that fire fighters in Washington, DC are being dispatched late at night on patrol in high crime neighborhoods. Earlier this week, at least three people were injured in shootings that occurred within blocks of where fire fighters have been stationed to deter crime in the Nation’s Capital.
Washington, DC Local 36 says the incident proves that crime should be left up to police. Read the IAFF Blob by clicking here.