Concealed/Open Carry in EMS: Some Unasked Questions

Well, it looks like all the hubbub about arming EMS has all but died down. You can catch a list of the posts over at 510 Medic’s page.

So, I think it’s time for me to stir the pot with a few questions I haven’t seen being asked anywhere. (If they have, please correct me in the comments section with a link/reference.) I’ll leave them as open questions – feel free to debate and throw around amongst yourselves.

The scenario: You’re on duty, and legally carrying a concealed weapon, approved by your employer. You’ve been through the required additional training for safe firearms handling, and have all of the certificates, licenses, and paperwork required by Federal law and your state.

What would happen with your patient if you had to use your weapon to defend yourself or them from another family member/bystander?

What would happen to your career if you were found guilty of using excessive force with your weapon?  How would that affect the rest of EMS providers who carry on the job?

What would happen if you were sued by the family of someone you shot or killed while protecting yourself/your partner/your patient during a call?

How would your family be affected if you shot or killed someone while performing your duties?

Back in the mid-90’s when I went through the mandatory four-hour class required for a CCW permit in Boston, we were told to count on 2 things happening if we ever shot someone:

1. Count on being arrested.
2. Count on being sued.

While you may not be arrested if you are found to be justified in your actions, chances are you will get sued. Your service may or may not provide you with legal representation, but you can count on spending lots of time explaining to everyone time and time again what happened, why you pulled the trigger, and every detail of everything that happened leading up to and following that crucial moment.

If you are ever required to pull the trigger, you can also count on a few more things:

1. Reliving the incident every time you doze off or fall asleep over the next few months (or more.)
2. You may be required by your service to attend counseling sessions with a mental health specialist. I highly recommend this. Leave the macho tough-guy attitude at the door. This is no laughing matter.
3. Expect a “cooling off” period of not being able to carry a weapon. On OR OFF duty.
4. Expect to be treated differently by everyone who hears about the incident. Good or bad, you will be.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks. Want to know the full story? Ask someone like MotorCop, or an attorney, who can tell you all kinds of things that you’d never think about happening.

To those of you who already carry (concealed or open), you probably already know all or most of this already. But to those providers who are new to all of this, you would be wise to start asking some serious questions to your HR department (and your attorney) if there’s a possibility you could be carrying a weapon while on duty in the near future.

You also might want to seek out a certified firearms instructor in your area, and plan on spending a lot of time and money at a range. Practicing.

*Disclaimer: I am an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor

  • Barefoot in MN

    I have a CCP, I carry, & I highly recommend the USCCA’s “Shield” program of insurance. They are the 24-7 (literally) go-to folks in case you have to fire or even draw your firearm. That being said, I’m a First Responder & in most services in my area we are not “allowed” to carry while on duty. (sigh) I carry for the same reasons I started taking EMS classes: I believe as a human being I have a duty to my fellow humans, to be ready & able to not only assist those in need to the best of my abilities, but also to defend those in need of defense… myself or others. You raise some good questions. I wish at least the person who’s that run’s designated driver could carry if they want to.

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