Help with a CCW article for EMS folks.

Help with a CCW article for EMS folks.

This is a discussion on Help with a CCW article for EMS folks. within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I am writing an article about what EMS should do when they encounter CCW. The first draft is below. This is for my local EMS ...

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  1. #1
    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    Help with a CCW article for EMS folks.

    I am writing an article about what EMS should do when they encounter CCW. The first draft is below. This is for my local EMS newsletter, but I'm beginning to think I might modify it for national relevance and submit to a national trade magazine. I have tried to use layman's terms, and I might try to include a couple pics. Any comments as they apply to details, content or style will be appreciated.



    Pistol Packin’ Patients


    You are dispatched to an unconscious male at the park. Upon arrival you find an adult male unconscious, with classical signs of anaphylaxis. After initiating treatment, you place the patient in your ambulance, and begin transport. As the patient begins to respond to treatment, your student performs a physical exam. “Hey, this dude’s got a gun!”

    Virginians have been able to carry concealed handguns as a shall-issue state since 1996, and for much longer as a may-issue state prior to that. Virginia has concealed handgun agreements with at least 21 other states. Open carry of handguns is legal throughout Virginia, and 47 states have some form of process for legal concealed carry. Nebraska recently enacted legislation that requires permit holders to disclose and surrender their handguns to emergency service workers. Virginia, however, has no such allowance.

    It is possible that EMS providers will come into contact with a patient who is carrying a handgun. Awareness of a handgun may be by the patient’s admission, or be discovered during the physical exam. The mere presence of a legally carried handgun should not indicate a thread to EMS safety. Illegally carried handguns may present a different set of concerns. Providers have a duty to themselves and their coworkers, to make any such handguns safe until they can be secured, or turned over to a law enforcement officer. An officer may not always be immediately available. EMS agencies should have in place a protocol for how to deal with legally carried firearms that are not subject to law enforcement action.

    While many EMS providers may be reluctant to take custody of a handgun, there may be no other option. The patient may have an altered level of consciousness, be physically impaired by injury, the handgun may impede application of a backboard, or narcotic treatment may be indicated. There is no cause for alarm. Handguns do not go off by themselves. A handgun will only discharge if the trigger is depressed, or if there is a mechanical malfunction, which is quite rare.

    The three rules of EMS gun safety. 1. All guns are always loaded. 2. Never point the gun at something you are not willing to destroy. 3. Keep your finger and other objects off the trigger at all times. Nobody will be injured by a gun unless multiple rules are disregarded. The primary safety device for all guns lies between the ears.

    You may find a holstered handgun at any point along the belt, in an elastic band or pouch under the pants, under the armpit, on the ankle or thigh, hanging from a necklace, or in a pants or coat pocket. Several manufacturers offer specialty concealment apparel with hidden pockets. Other off-body carry options include purses, fanny packs, day planners, and backpacks. Virtually all holsters are designed to prevent inadvertent trigger presses by covering the trigger. Some holsters have retention devices that prevent the handgun from easily being dislodged or removed. These include buttons, straps, and friction fit. Some holsters are secured to the body by a belt loop, while others slip over the belt by means of tabs, springs, or clips. The vast majority of handguns can be rendered safe by simply leaving them in the holster.

    The revolver is rarely seen with a manual safety device. Safety is assumed due to a heavy trigger pull. While some may be modified for a light pull, this only applies if the revolver is cocked. Cocking a revolver rotates a cartridge under the hammer. Pulling the trigger causes the cartridge to fire. Most modern revolvers will cock first in sequence while pulling the trigger, eliminating the need for two separate actions. To unload a revolver, press the cylinder latch (behind the cylinder on the left side) forward, back, or in, depending on the model, push the cylinder open, and allow the cartridges to drop free.

    The semi-automatic pistol is loaded by inserting a magazine, then manually cycling the slide. Pulling the trigger causes another cartridge to enter the chamber, making it ready to fire again by another pull of the trigger. The pistol may or may not have a manual safety, which, if available, is usually located on the upper left side at the rear. Generally, up means safe, down means fire. Some may have a de-cock feature, which requires a downward press. Many pistols have no external hammer. Some are designed to be carried “cocked and locked,” that is, cocked with the safety engaged. The variations of pistols available on the market, and subsequently the steps required to unload them, cannot be adequately addressed without hands on instruction. The pistol owner’s instructions, or a working knowledge of pistols, are strongly suggested prior to removing the cartridges. The rest of this paragraph is meant only as an adjunct to hands-on instruction. The magazine release is usually located at the rear of the trigger guard, on the left side. Removing the magazine DOES NOT remove the cartridge already loaded into the chamber. The slide must be cycled to remove this cartridge, and will usually lock in the open position, as long as the magazine is out. The safety may have to be disengaged to cycle the slide. Failure to remove the magazine prior to cycling the slide will only cycle another round into the chamber!

    EMS providers are encouraged to seek professional instruction prior to attempting to manipulate any handgun. There are a number of gun shops and trainers in the area, which may be willing to offer a brief tutorial.

    So back to the matter at hand, what to do with the handgun? A soft or hard sided pistol case is optimal, and can be found at prices starting between $6.00 and $21.00. They can then be padlocked (keep the key on the ignition ring). Handguns are expensive high-theft items. If possible, secure the case in a locking cabinet. Upon arrival at the hospital, have security take control of the handgun, and get a receipt. Make sure the patient is made aware of the disposition of his property. Some patients may be reluctant to surrender their handgun. This may be for safety reasons, as they do not want anyone handling their handgun, or the chance that it may get in the wrong hands. These concerns are understandable. Can the handgun be turned over to a relative, left in the home, locked in the trunk of a car, unloaded prior to transport? If not, a police officer may have to be requested.

    EMS safety is paramount. Last year, a provider in North Carolina was helping an intoxicated patient off the stretcher when he pulled a handgun and fired into her chest. She survived. The patient was wrestled to the ground by firefighters. Elsewhere, an EMS crew was killed by an angry spouse upon returning to their station. Separate incidents have been reported of EMS crews being targeted by deranged homeowners. Reports out of the United Kingdom show that violence against EMS is rampant. There are techniques that can be employed, to prevent injury during an assault. We in EMS should not assume we are immune from violence. Often the first sign of violence comes after our arrival. We should expand scene safety to include self defense.
    "Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18

    Guns Save Lives. Paramedics Save Lives. But...
    Paramedics With Guns Scare People!


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array TN_Mike's Avatar
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    I think that is a well written well thought out letter. I commend you for doing this.

    Honestly, this is something I have thought about and worried about for a while. What happens if, God forbid, I am involved in an auto accident and have to be transported to the hospital? What happens to my carry gun? I would assume I would ask a police officer to take custody of the gun until I am released from the hospital but it is still a big unknown for me.

    I really like this letter. Good job.
    ,=====o00o _
    //___l__,\____\,__
    l_--- \___l---[]lllllll[]
    (o)_)-o- (o)_)--o-)_)

  3. #3
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    I have never thought about what would happen to my carry gun if I were in an accident. It is something I must consider in the future.

    A well thought out article, and not just for EMS.

    Thanks

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    The mere presence of a legally carried handgun should not indicate a thread to EMS safety.
    I think you meant....."a threat to EMS safety."

    A couple of things I would consider is, if the gun is in a holster (like a paddle style, or even a belt type) that can be removed without removing the firearm....it may be better, than trying to remove firearm from the holster. That way the EMS person, who may not have any firearm training, is less likely to put their finger in trigger & cause more problems.

    It sounds like some good information to impart to EMS personnel, maybe they should be required to know how to unload different types of weapons.

    I would also consider adding a part about:
    WHEN IN DOUBT OF THE WEAPONS OPERATION, DON'T.....
    Quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est.-Seneca

    "If you carry a gun, people will call you paranoid. If I have a gun, what do I have to be paranoid about?" -Clint Smith

    "An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." -Jeff Cooper

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    Very well done

    Well done, I should do something similar for my agency. How mad would you be if I copied your work shamelessly?


    War story, once took an elderly patient with "bag o meds" from ALF to hospital. In a moment of laziness, my partner didn't check the large shopping bag to inventory the meds. Taurus .38 found in bag by ER nurse

    2nd story, found a derringer in the back pocket of man we shocked 6 times.

  6. #6
    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Superhouse 15 View Post
    Well done, I should do something similar for my agency. How mad would you be if I copied your work shamelessly?
    Have no shame.
    "Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18

    Guns Save Lives. Paramedics Save Lives. But...
    Paramedics With Guns Scare People!

  7. #7
    Member Array plblark's Avatar
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    I posted this to a local Carry board (forum.twincitiescarry.com) and most of the responses were: Don't clear the gun. Don't handle the gun. Remove the gun IN the holster. Cut straps / belt if necessary.

    The idea that seemed best to me was to remove the holster with the gun in it, put it in a secure container, and do a receipt for the property.

    here's the thread:
    http://www.twincitiescarry.com/forum...ic.php?p=45732

  8. #8
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    +1 to goawayfarm and plblark....keep the weapon in the holster and lock in a case/cabinet. As long as the weapon stays in the holster, the trigger is covered...and no NDs.

    Would also recommend something along the lines of good guys wear holsters.

    Have there been documented/verified instances of a pistol discharging caused by a mechanical failure? meaning--there was no outside force acting on the firearm. If not, I would change the following:

    FROM: A handgun will only discharge if the trigger is depressed, or if there is a mechanical malfunction, which is quite rare

    TO: A handgun will only discharge if the trigger is depressed, or if there is a mechanical malfunction--to wit, there have not been any documented/verified instances where this has occurred.

    Finally, the last part of the semi-auto paragraph while good in it's intent--I think you might start losing people there as they may not have a point of reference. (I would delete at the point in the paragraph beginning with "The pistol owner’s instructions...")--but that's my opinion. I think you did a great job describing all of the configurations of semi-autos...especially the 1911 variety--informing them that this is a normal, safe way to carry a 1911.

    I look forward to seeing your article in print!

    Mike in VA

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    Distinguished Member Array AutoFan's Avatar
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    In your article you state that the slide "will usually lock in the open position, as long as the magazine is out". On all of my semi-autos the slide will not lock open when the magazine is out. Also, the direction of safeties on a number of handguns is opposite of what you describe. Magazine releases on older or European guns may be heel catches.

    Please take the above as constructive technical criticisms. I applaud you for taking on a serious issue, one that I had never considered since I started carrying!

  10. #10
    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=AutoFan;267303]In your article you state that the slide "will usually lock in the open position, as long as the magazine is out". On all of my semi-autos the slide will not lock open when the magazine is out.QUOTE]

    Oops you caught me in a serious Brain Poof!

    Thanks everybody for the comments. I am in the process of incorporating them into the final document.
    "Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18

    Guns Save Lives. Paramedics Save Lives. But...
    Paramedics With Guns Scare People!

  11. #11
    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    I am presenting the latest version of the article. This one is tailored to a national audience. I have incorporated many of your suggestions, as well as some technical edits. Enjoy!

    You are dispatched to an unconscious male at the park. Upon arrival you find an adult male unconscious, with classical signs of anaphylaxis. After initiating treatment, you place the patient in your ambulance, and begin transport. As the patient begins to respond to treatment, your student performs a physical exam. “Hey, this dude’s got a gun!”

    This article is intended to familiarize EMS providers with legally armed patients, discuss safe methods of securing handguns, and address options when unholstered handguns are discovered. Citizens in 48 states are allowed to carry concealed weapons. Permit holders are usually required to attend firearms training and have background checks. Vermont and Alaska allow concealed weapons without permits. Open carry of handguns is legal in many states. Nebraska recently enacted legislation that requires permit holders to disclose and surrender their handguns to emergency service workers. Most states, however, have no such legislation.

    It is possible that EMS providers will come into contact with a patient who is carrying a handgun. Awareness of a handgun may be by the patient’s admission, or be discovered during the physical exam. The mere presence of a legally carried handgun should not indicate a threat to EMS safety, absent other factors. Illegally carried handguns may present a different set of concerns. Providers have a duty to themselves and their coworkers, to make any such handguns safe until they can be secured, or turned over to a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO). An LEO may not always be immediately available. EMS agencies should have in place a protocol for how to deal with legally carried firearms that are not subject to LEO confiscation.

    While many EMS providers may be reluctant to take possession of a handgun, there may be no other option. The patient may have an altered level of consciousness, be physically impaired by injury, the handgun may impede application of a backboard, or narcotic treatment may be indicated. There is no cause for alarm. Handguns do not go off by themselves. A handgun will only discharge if the trigger is depressed, or if there is a mechanical malfunction. Encountering such a malfunction when the handgun is not being fired is nearly unimaginable.

    The three rules of EMS gun safety: 1. All guns are always loaded. 2. Never point the gun at something you are not willing to destroy. 3. Keep your finger and other objects off the trigger at all times. Nobody will be injured by a gun unless multiple rules are disregarded. The primary safety device for all guns lies between the ears. EMS providers are encouraged to seek professional instruction prior to attempting to manipulate any handgun. Gun shops and firearms trainers in your area may be willing to offer a brief tutorial. The technical information contained in this article is meant only as a general reference, to augment hands-on instruction. The variations of pistols available on the market, and subsequently the steps required to unload them, cannot be adequately addressed without hands on instruction. Handling a firearm without a thorough understanding of it’s working components is extremely dangerous!

    You may find a holstered handgun at any point along the belt, in an elastic band or pouch under the pants, under the armpit, on the ankle or thigh, hanging from a necklace, or in a pants or coat pocket. Several manufacturers offer specialty concealment apparel with hidden pockets. Off-body carry options include purses, fanny packs, day planners, and backpacks. Virtually all holsters are designed to prevent inadvertent trigger presses by covering the trigger. Most holsters have retention features that prevent the handgun from easily being dislodged or removed. These include buttons, straps, and tight fit. Some holsters are secured to the body by a solid belt loop, while others slip over the belt by means of tabs, springs, or clips. The vast majority of handguns can be removed while leaving them in the holster.

    The revolver is rarely seen with a manual safety device. Safety is assumed due to a heavy trigger pull. While some may be modified for a light, or “hair trigger” pull, this only applies if the revolver is cocked. Cocking the hammer rotates a cartridge under the firing pin. Pressing the trigger causes the cartridge to fire. Most modern revolvers will cock first in sequence while pressing the trigger, eliminating the need for two separate actions. To unload a revolver, press the cylinder latch (behind the cylinder on the left side) forward, back, or in, depending on the model, push the cylinder open, and allow the cartridges to drop free. Occasionally the plunger, located on and in front of the cylinder, must be depressed to facilitate unloading.

    The semi-automatic pistol is loaded by inserting a magazine, then manually cycling the slide. Pressing the trigger, and firing the handgun, causes the slide to cycle, placing another cartridge in the chamber, making it ready to fire again by another pull of the trigger. The pistol may or may not have a manual safety, which, if available, is usually located on the upper left side at the rear. Generally, up means safe, down means fire. Some safeties have a de-cock feature, which requires a downward press. Many pistols have no external hammer. Some are designed to be carried “cocked and locked,” that is, cocked with the safety engaged. The pistol owner’s instructions, or a working knowledge of pistols, are strongly suggested prior to making the pistol safe. The magazine release is usually located at the rear of the trigger guard, on the left side, but may be on the right, or at the bottom of the grip. The magazine may drop rapidly, or may have to be pulled free. Removing the magazine DOES NOT remove the cartridge already loaded into the chamber. The slide must be cycled to remove this cartridge. The safety may have to be disengaged to cycle the slide. Failure to remove the magazine prior to cycling the slide will only cycle another round into the chamber!

    So back to the matter at hand, what to do with the handgun? Leave it in the holster. This is the safest method. Cut the holster away if necessary. Lacking a holster, it is acceptable to store the handgun loaded, in a soft or hard sided pistol case, which can be found at prices starting between $6.00 and $21.00. Padlock the case (keep the key on the ignition ring). Handguns are expensive high-theft items. If possible, secure the cased handgun in a locking cabinet. Upon arrival at the hospital, have security take control of the handgun, and get a receipt. Make sure the patient is made aware of the disposition of his property. Some patients may be reluctant to surrender their handgun. This may be for safety reasons, as they do not want an untrained person touching their handgun, or the chance that it may get in the wrong hands. There may be EMS providers who are prohibited from possessing a handgun. These concerns are understandable. Can the handgun be turned over to a relative, left in the home, locked in the trunk of a car, unloaded prior to transport? If not, an LEO may have to be requested.

    EMS safety is paramount. Last year, a provider in North Carolina was helping an intoxicated patient off the stretcher when he pulled a handgun and fired into her chest. She survived. The patient was wrestled to the ground by firefighters. Elsewhere, an EMS crew was killed by an angry spouse upon returning to their station. Separate incidents have been reported of EMS crews being shot by deranged homeowners after calling 911. Reports out of the United Kingdom show that violence against EMS there is rampant.

    There are techniques that can be employed to prevent injury during an assault. EMS providers should not assume that we are immune from violence. Often the first sign of danger comes unexpectedly. We should expand our understanding of scene safety to include armed encounters and self defense, and be ready to respond to all threats.
    Last edited by paramedic70002; January 4th, 2007 at 11:48 AM. Reason: Oopsie
    "Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18

    Guns Save Lives. Paramedics Save Lives. But...
    Paramedics With Guns Scare People!

  12. #12
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    Alan,

    Good article. I am a little unclear as to the intent of the last paragraph. The point of the article seems to be that EMS personnel should not be automatically alarmed at the presence of a gun, but they should remove and secure the gun for the safety of all involved. The last paragraph then describes criminal acts of assault/battery. While the incidents you describe support removing all guns from all patients, you might highlight also that accidental injury to EMS personnel from guns found on patients is extremely rare (I am assuming that is true).

    Another case to consider is off-duty LE. They may not be so willing to relinquish their firearm. This aspect could be explored and included in your article as well.

    Regards,

    Dave.

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    VIP Member Array MNBurl's Avatar
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    I would go simpler with how to make safe a handgun. Like take if off with a holster and put it in a container with a latch. I would suggest not try to unload it!

    I like the idea but make it as simple as possible.
    MNBurl

    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking" - George S. Patton.

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    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davyray View Post
    Alan,

    Good article. I am a little unclear as to the intent of the last paragraph. The point of the article seems to be that EMS personnel should not be automatically alarmed at the presence of a gun, but they should remove and secure the gun for the safety of all involved. The last paragraph then describes criminal acts of assault/battery. While the incidents you describe support removing all guns from all patients, you might highlight also that accidental injury to EMS personnel from guns found on patients is extremely rare (I am assuming that is true).

    Another case to consider is off-duty LE. They may not be so willing to relinquish their firearm. This aspect could be explored and included in your article as well.

    Regards,

    Dave.
    1. I am uneasy with the last paragraph as well. I feel the info is important, but it does seem to jump sub topics with no segway.
    2. I considered including off duty LEOs, but tried to keep on topic with civilian CCW. Maybe I should include a wee bit of info there.
    "Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18

    Guns Save Lives. Paramedics Save Lives. But...
    Paramedics With Guns Scare People!

  15. #15
    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNBurl View Post
    I would go simpler with how to make safe a handgun. Like take if off with a holster and put it in a container with a latch. I would suggest not try to unload it!

    I like the idea but make it as simple as possible.
    I agree. What I tried to do is give options. A holster may not always be available. Maybe I should state that.
    "Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18

    Guns Save Lives. Paramedics Save Lives. But...
    Paramedics With Guns Scare People!

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