State legislators are considering a bill to authorize emergency personnel to go armed while on duty after getting written permission from their supervisors and completing an eight-hour training course.
The authors said they filed the bill out of consideration for rural first responders who may show up to scenes of emergencies before police officers can arrive. In an emergency, armed officers may take minutes to arrive to diffuse dangerous situations, they said.
Some say, however, that armed firefighters and EMTs could increase departments’ liability and would definitely increase the cost of their insurance.
Washington County/Johnson City EMS Chief Dan Wheeley said armed emergency workers would also have to find a way to keep their firearms secured while responding to fires and other emergencies when they can’t carry them on their persons.
Currently, Wheeley said he and the EMS board are opposed to the legislation and if it’s approved would not allow county workers to go armed while on duty.
The question raises safety issues for emergency workers and for civilians. That’s why we want to hear from you.
Should firefighters and emergency medical technicians carry firearms while on duty? Would doing so improve or worsen safety? Is the increased cost of insurance worth the benefits?
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