IMPACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST POLICE ON EMS PROVIDERS:
NEMSMA leaders were interested in what our members are doing, for our industry, in response to the increased violence against our law enforcement colleagues.
BALLISTIC VESTS FOR CAREGIVERS -
Almost 56% of the survey responders plan to provide caregivers ballistic vests in the next 12 months. Some are providing generic vests assigned to the ambulance or supervisor vehicle. Others are restricting ballistic vests to tactical medics or members of the rescue task force.
- “Provided for general wear under uniform shirt if requested but must be worn entire shift. Over the shirt high level ballistic vest and kevlar helmet provided as part of system wide active-shooter response procedure.”
- “Not provided by agency- agency offers it to employees via group purchasing discount and payroll deduction.”
CAREGIVERS CARRYING ON-DUTY GUNS OR KNIVES FOR DEFENSIVE PURPOSES
Three-fourths of the respondents plan to allow caregivers to carry guns or knives on-duty for defensive purposes. Many are considering the utility knife as a sharp-edged tool that can be re-purposed as a caregiver defensive weapon.
- “Guns prohibited by agency policy. Knives allowed ‘as a tool’.”
- “No firearms, but no regulation prohibiting caring edge devices (not necessarily for defensive use)”.
- “We have police-paramedics who are armed (they are on duty officers). Our non-police paramedics are not armed.”
EMS UNIFORMS DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT -
Over one-third of the respondents are planning to change their EMS uniform in the next 12 months.
- “Firefighters have been negatively approached in the twin cities, who are wearing t-shirts. Medics with Polos and medics in their ambulances. Our experience is not part of the issue.”
- “We wear Polos, however, are mistaken for law enforcement.”
- “EMS needs uniformity nationwide. The public doesn't recognize EMS in Polos and job pants. We have no specific physical identity.”
It is clear that violence has impacted our industry. We have to be ever-cautious and aware in all environments in which we are called to provide service. The need for the protection, safety, and care of our providers is evident from the responses. In the words of Hill Street Blues Sergeant Phil Esterhaus, “Let’s be careful out there.”