I do a lot of reading, and lately a similar theme keeps rearing its ugly head: Arming firefighters and EMT's. I cringe whenever I see a headline, "Firefighters shot," EMS Crew stabbed," Paramedic assaulted," and every combination of those imaginable, and wonder what we can do to stop our people from getting hurt. Best I can figure is to stay alert, be aware of our surroundings and call for help before it's needed. Even then, sometimes everything we do isn't enough.
I do not want a gun. It's not that I don't like guns, because I do. They are fascinating, beautiful tools, finely crafted, precise and a true marvel of engineering. Great things, really.
But carrying one at work? Quite simply, my effectiveness as an EMT, Firefighter, First Responder, Incident Commander, Haz-Mat Technician, Ice Rescue, Water Rescue, Stuck Between Building Rescue, Trench Rescue, Peacemaker, Communicator, Negotiator, Therapist, Father, Brother, Mother, Friend, or whatever the call brings with it will be compromised.
No matter how much it weighs, a gun is heavy. I'm already carrying just about all I can on a call, physically and mentally, the added weight of responsibility a gun carries is just too much to bear. My part in the Public Safety world is difficult enough, and a constant challenge. I need to trust that the other parts of the Public Safety puzzle are not overburdened. The police have the guns. They train with them, take care of them, bear the weight of responsibility that comes with them.
As with anything, there are exceptions. Fire/EMS crews in rural areas who are not responding to dozens of calls every shift, a large percentage of which involve violent people have the luxury of wearing two, or more hats, and wearing them well. I've read accounts of volunteer firefighters who are paid police officers. Or firefighters who are also deputies. They carry weapons because they are the law and the firefighters.
Good for them.
As for me? I'm no stranger to gunfire. I have wrestled my share of uncooperative people, been in fear for my life many times, certain I would die once, have seen partners attacked and disabled by combative patients and not once would carrying a firearm done any good.
I cannot begin to imagine the trouble that would have been caused if my sidearm were visible while doing CPR on a gunshot victim in front of his posse..
Guns themselves are okay, but on an EMS rig they are far more trouble than they are worth.