When we teach new paramedic and EMT students, we frequently have them role play to improve their patient interview skills. Every student learns that the first thing to come out of their mouth better be “scene safety” or it means an automatic failure of the scenario. This is done to make sure that they are always watching out for safety. The safety of themselves, their crew, and their patient.

Some years ago, I was involved in a discussion about this subject, because a man whose mother was living with him called 911. When the paramedics arrived, they noted some firearms sitting nearby, and had a law enforcement officer take control of the weapons for the duration of their visit. The weapons were returned to him as soon as the call was concluded.

This gentleman wanted to know under what authority the EMS crew confiscated his firearms. I tried to point out to him that his guns were not “confiscated,” but merely held temporarily for the safety of the crew operating there. The gentleman told me that if EMS crews were THAT afraid, perhaps we should find another line of work. He then called me a “jack booted thug.” When I tried to point out that this is standard procedure nationwide, he got really angry.

When EMS responds to a call, they do not know what they are going to be facing when they get there. I personally have stumbled upon numerous scenes that included rape, robbery, murder, and suicide. If I do not know you, I am going to have someone hold your weapon for a little bit, until we get the scene under control.

Not only are there people who want to kill, but people who are REALLY sick tend to experience an altered level of consciousness. Part of that altered LOC is a tendency to become combative. A head injury, seizure, stroke, low blood sugar, poor perfusion, any one of these problems can cause combativeness. When an EMS crew holds on to your weapons, it isn’t because they are trying to be a JBT. It is because they want to see another sunrise. Just because you are not dangerous when you are healthy does not mean you will remain so when injured. I have news for you- we even disarm cops when they are hurt. ( I have seen a cop with a head injury repeatedly try to draw his weapon)

Since many EMS personnel are not trained to handle weapons, this procedure is usually left to a LEO. You still get your firearm back- as soon as the call is over. 30 minutes, tops.

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1 Comment

Unknown · August 9, 2007 at 1:01 am

“standard procedure nationwide”? I don’t think so.

It’s our discretion. I certainly would not call police every time I encountered a gun on a call. If the gun is directly involved in the call, of course. If the patient is armed and the gun interferes with their treatment, yes.

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