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What would happen if while armed.......You were involved in a accident or had some other type of medical emergency and were rushed to a hospital while incapacitated?

I got to thinking about this after I spoke to an old college friend of mine the other day. We were talking and catching up on things, this was the first time I had seen her in years. We were doing the typical 'have you heard from so and so' and 'do you remember so and so' when she told me that someone we had gone to school with had been in a bad car accident and he and his wife had gotten messed up pretty bad.

Well, later on I got to thinking. What would happen if I had to be rushed to a hospital? I am armed almost everytime I leave the house and I know that almost all the hospitals here in Kansas are marked as no carry zones (at least the ones around my area are). What would happen if I was taken to the hospital while armed, would they call the LEOs and if so would I get charged? (you can be charged with a misdomeaner in kansas for carrying while in a marked no carry zone). Would the ambulance even transport me while armed? presumably the paramedics would notice the firearm while provideing medical attention. Would they disarm me first or at the hospital and if so what would they do with the firearm? I'd hate to think about my firearm not being secured if such a situation occured.

I am sure this situation has probably happened somewhere to someone, anyone ever heard how it was handled?
 

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Scary thoughts, thankfully I have no idea what would happen. I do know I would be pissed if I was charged or something happened to my weapon. Hopefully LEO at the scene can secure the firearm and get it back to you.

Joker1
 

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I've never had that happen to me. I would have to say that in a situation when someone couldn't tell me they where armed, I would find the weapon though patient assessment. I believe if I found a weapon and the police where not still on scene, I would make sure it was safe, and place it with your other belongings.


I wouldn't worry about being charged with a crime if you are a law abiding citizen that Just happens to have something unfortunate happen to them.
 

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What would happen if while armed.......You were involved in a accident or had some other type of medical emergency and were rushed to a hospital while in incapacitated?

I got to thinking about this after I spoke to an old college friend of mine the other day. We were talking and catching up on things, this was the first time I had seen her in years. We were doing the typical 'have you heard from so and so' and 'do you remember so and so' when she told me that someone we had gone to school with had been in a bad car accident and he and his wife had gotten messed up pretty bad.

Well, later on I got to thinking. What would happen if I had to be rushed to a hospital? I am armed almost everytime I leave the house and I know that almost all the hospitals here in Kansas are marked as no carry zones (at least the ones around my area are). What would happen if I was taken to the hospital while armed, would they call the LEOs and if so would I get charged? (you can be charged with a misdomeaner in kansas for carrying while in a marked no carry zone). Would the ambulance even transport me while armed? presumably the paramedics would notice the firearm while provideing medical attention. Would they disarm me first or at the hospital and if so what would they do with the firearm? I'd hate to think about my firearm not being secured if such a situation occured.

I am sure this situation has probably happened somewhere to someone, anyone ever heard how it was handled?
My wife was a registered nurse in emergency rooms for a number of years. I showed her this piece and her response was that every emergency room has protocols established for exactly this situation. There are rules, laws, and procedures (that may vary from ER to ER) to deal with this. She went on to say that once the gun has been removed from the emergency patient they do call the local police and, from there, it is up to them.
 

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What would happen if while armed.......You were involved in a accident or had some other type of medical emergency and were rushed to a hospital while in incapacitated?
Had it happen a few times while I was a medic. Since I was also a cop, I cleared it, tossed it into a clean sharps bin, and gave it to the local cops. No idea what happened to it after that, but a couple were on-duty cops from traffic accidents, so I know those weren't destroyed. As for anyone else, who knows...
 

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around here if officers are on scene the ambulance crew will give the weapon to us to secure and we get it to a family member at the scene or at the hospital, if nobody available we'll book it into our personal property at the PD and the owner can come get it when they're out of the hospital
as for making to the hospital, like poster said above, hospitals have their own protocols, most of which involve calling us, and will be handled the same way, if transported in with the weapon it will be easily argued there were extenuating circumstances, I know none of our officers would file charges since they would use common sense
that being said, the various jurisdictions around the country may handle it differently
 

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If you are carrying legally you won't get charged. Medical people will secure it. It will be given back to you with your other valuables.
There have threads on this before.
Semper fi
 

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I would think that the wapon would have to be itemized along with your other personal belonging and given back to you when you are discharged from the hospitol. Now , the weapon may need pick-up at your local law enforcement office.
 

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You would get it back, after they run ballistics on it. Now you firearm is in the system. I have heard it's standard procedure or law to do this anytime a firearm is put in police possession.
 

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around here if officers are on scene the ambulance crew will give the weapon to us to secure and we get it to a family member at the scene or at the hospital, if nobody available we'll book it into our personal property at the PD and the owner can come get it when they're out of the hospital
as for making to the hospital, like poster said above, hospitals have their own protocols, most of which involve calling us, and will be handled the same way, if transported in with the weapon it will be easily argued there were extenuating circumstances, I know none of our officers would file charges since they would use common sense
that being said, the various jurisdictions around the country may handle it differently

My cousin is a paramedic that's married to a county deputy and that's how they handle it.
 

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I always had an officer on scene secure the weapon. I have never worked for an EMS service that would allow weapons in the patient compartment. The ambulance is required to transport you, it is considered a duty to act.
 

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The agencies I work for in NY have different protocols per the agencies. Some state that no one is to touch to gun unless you are a firearms instructor\police officer, others say put the firearm in the lockable compartment in the ambulance and if possible keep the weapon in the holster.
Personally, I clear every firearm that comes into the back of my ambulance, especially if the patient it unconscious. As a first responder my concern would be a post dictal seizure patient or diabetic being confused and reaching for something before they fully understand I’m there to help. Once the weapon's unloaded and secured the Officer in Charge will take possession of the key and keep it on his person until law enforcement officers takes charge of the weapon. Oh I forgot the ammo is seperated from the firearm as well.
 

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My cousin is a paramedic that's married to a county deputy and that's how they handle it.
If you are carrying legally you won't get charged. Medical people will secure it. It will be given back to you with your other valuables.
There have threads on this before.
Semper fi
around here if officers are on scene the ambulance crew will give the weapon to us to secure and we get it to a family member at the scene or at the hospital, if nobody available we'll book it into our personal property at the PD and the owner can come get it when they're out of the hospital
as for making to the hospital, like poster said above, hospitals have their own protocols, most of which involve calling us, and will be handled the same way, if transported in with the weapon it will be easily argued there were extenuating circumstances, I know none of our officers would file charges since they would use common sense
that being said, the various jurisdictions around the country may handle it differently
I've never had that happen to me. I would have to say that in a situation when someone couldn't tell me they where armed, I would find the weapon though patient assessment. I believe if I found a weapon and the police where not still on scene, I would make sure it was safe, and place it with your other belongings.


I wouldn't worry about being charged with a crime if you are a law abiding citizen that Just happens to have something unfortunate happen to them.
These sound reasuring to me in case something were to happen to me.



"To my mind it is wholly irresponsible to go into the world incapable of preventing violence, injury, crime, and death. How feeble is the mindset to accept defenselessness. How unnatural. How cheap. How cowardly. How pathetic." Ted Nugent
 

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EMT's and hospitals have procedures for such things and it is not a big deal. I wouldn't worry about it if you already have bigger problems to worry about...like surviving an accident.:22a:
 

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Even in the same county SOPs vary.

Some hospitals have full accredited PDs, some full accredited individual LEO, some only security guards, etc.

The details vary on who does what, but generally, around here, the weapon does not end up with the local PD, absent reasonable, articulable suspicion for a detention. Note: “Absent some disqualifying status (being a felon, juvenile, or drug possessor) or situs (being in a place where weapons are forbidden), it is not a crime to possess a weapon.” Jackson v. Commonwealth, 41 Va. App. 211, 231, 583 S.E.2d 780, 790 (2003)

As the patient didn't bring it into the hospital there is no situs issue -- even potential of a criminal trespass issue does not apply. BTW -- in Virginia it is not a crime to have a gun in a hospital or any posted place. The only "gun" law that applies is:

§ 18.2-308. Personal protection; carrying concealed weapons; when lawful to carry.

....

O. The granting of a concealed handgun permit shall not thereby authorize the possession of any handgun or other weapon on property or in places where such possession is otherwise prohibited by law or is prohibited by the owner of private property.
.... [emphasis added]
That is a CHP does not let you carry when prohibited by the owner. So, it is rather like a golf course's "Proper golf attire required" you need to comply or be charged with trespass.

Generally the hospital secures the gun until the patient can reclaim it, or someone with a legal right to it claims it, if the patient is incapable.

OTOH, if a gun falls into the realm of evidence of, or in, a crime, it is then treated as such -- the most common being disqualifying status (being a felon, juvenile, or drug possessor).
 

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This did happen to me. I was stopped on the freeway due to traffic and the person behind me did not notice everyone was stopping. I got hit hard enough to spin my car around 270 degrees (I think that was all). I was taken to the hospital by medics. While they were taking me out of the car on a back board I asked for the LEO on scene. When he came over I informed him of the weapon and asked him to secure it for me. He asked me for my wife's name so he could return it to her. It helped that he was the one calling her to tell her where I was going. No problems with asking and the parimedics were happy to not having to deal with it. They had not noticed that I was even carrying at the time.
 

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Pistol-Packin' Patients

Pistol-Packin' Patients

What to know about legally armed patients and handling handguns safely

By Alan W. Rose

You are dispatched to a person "not awake but breathing" at the local park. Upon arrival your crew, including an EMT student, finds an adult female unresponsive, with classic signs of anaphylaxis. After initiating treatment, you decide to conduct the rest of your physical assessment en route. As transport begins, your student starts an exam, and the patient begins to respond. Suddenly the student exclaims, "Hey, she's got a gun!"

EMS providers may encounter patients who are armed. Awareness of a patient's handgun may come through the patient's admission or by discovery during the physical exam. This article deals primarily with patients who are armed legally and not behaving aggressively toward EMS.

Absent other factors, the mere presence of a legally carried handgun should not indicate a threat to provider safety. Concealed-carry permit holders have a criminal conviction rate much lower than that of the general population.1–3 Illegally carried handguns obviously present a different set of concerns. As a rule of thumb, the vast majority of off-duty law enforcement officers (LEOs) and legally armed citizens use holsters, while illegally carried handguns are usually found tucked in the waistband or pocketed without a holster. Many LEOs are required to wear badges next to their weapons. Only government-issued badges and documents are official.

Citizens in 48 states can carry concealed weapons with a permit (the exceptions being Illinois and Wisconsin, plus Washington, DC). Permit holders account for more than 1.3% of the population.4 This means more than one in every 100 patients can be assumed to have a permit, although not all permit holders will be in possession of a firearm when seen by EMS. Usually citizens are required to attend firearms training and pass a background check before they're issued a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The prerequisites vary by state. Vermont and Alaska allow concealed weapons without permits, and unconcealed carry of handguns without a permit is legal in many states.5 Nebraska recently enacted legislation requiring permit holders to disclose and surrender their handguns to EMS personnel.6 However, most states have no such legislation, and patients with altered levels of consciousness may be unable to comply with such a law.

EMS agencies should have protocols in place for dealing with legally carried firearms. Providers have a duty to themselves and their coworkers to make handguns safe until they can be secured or turned over to law enforcement. It is dangerous to leave firearms with ill or injured patients such as the one in our opening scenario—she may require immediate treatment, have an altered level of consciousness or be physically impaired by injury. The handgun may impede application of a backboard. Narcotic treatment may be indicated, such as for pain management.

There is no cause for alarm when taking custody of a firearm. Handguns do not "go off" by themselves. A handgun will only discharge if the trigger is depressed or if there is a mechanical malfunction. Such malfunctions are extremely rare. There have been isolated cases of discharge when a firearm is dropped, usually involving old guns. Fortunately, there is an established set of rules to govern the safe handling of firearms (see Table 1).

To maximize safety, EMS providers are encouraged to seek professional instruction prior to attempting to manipulate any handgun. Gun shops and trainers in your area may be willing to offer brief tutorials.

The information in this article is meant only as a general reference to augment, not replace, hands-on instruction. The variety of handguns, especially pistols, available on the market and the steps required to unload and/or make them safe cannot be adequately addressed without hands-on instruction.
HOLSTERS

Virtually all holsters are designed to prevent inadvertent trigger presses by covering the trigger. Most have retention features that prevent the handgun from being easily dislodged or removed. These features include buttons, straps and tight "friction" fit. Some holsters are secured to the body by solid belt loops, while others slip over the belt. Usually, holsters can be removed with the firearm safely inside. Lacking a holster, some knowledge of handgun mechanisms is necessary to maintain safety.

You may find a holstered handgun at any point along the belt, in an elastic band or pouch inside clothing, under the armpit, on the ankle or thigh, hanging from a necklace, or in a pocket. Handguns are usually carried loaded and with extra ammunition. You may find other weapons as well, including additional handguns. Several manufacturers offer specialty concealment apparel with hidden pockets. Off-body carry options include purses, fanny packs, day planners and backpacks.

What kinds of handguns may be found on patients?
REVOLVERS

A revolver is designed to place a cartridge (cased bullet and powder) under the hammer for firing by using a rotating cylinder that may hold 5-7 cartridges. Cocking the hammer rotates the cylinder. Pressing the trigger causes the cartridge to fire. Most modern revolvers will cock automatically when the trigger is pressed, eliminating the need for two separate actions. Some revolvers do not have external (visible) hammers. The revolver is rarely seen with a manual safety device, as safety is assumed due to its heavy trigger pull weight. While some may be modified for a light (hair-trigger) pull weight, this only applies if the revolver is cocked. If a revolver is found cocked, be extremely careful. Only touch a cocked revolver if you must immediately remove it from a dangerous situation. A cocked revolver cannot be unloaded until it is uncocked. There is danger in uncocking a revolver even for experienced gun users. To uncock a revolver, it must be put through a firing sequence. For right-handed operation:

* Place the left thumb blocking the hammer. This is your safety.
* Hold the right thumb on the hammer.
* Press the trigger with the right index finger.
* Slowly lower the hammer completely, gradually withdrawing the left thumb.

To unload an uncocked revolver:

* Press the cylinder latch, located behind the cylinder on the left side, forward, back or in, depending on the design.
* Push the cylinder open from the right, tip the barrel up, and allow the cartridges to drop free.
* Occasionally the ejector rod, located at the front center of the cylinder, must be depressed to facilitate unloading.

SEMI-AUTOMATICS

Fully automatic pistols, which fire multiple times with one press of the trigger, are rare, but may be encountered with some specialized protective or law enforcement agencies. Most of these look like small submachine guns. Semi-automatic pistols are loaded by inserting a loaded magazine, then manually cycling (pulling back) the slide. Pressing the trigger and firing the pistol causes the slide to cycle and places another cartridge in the chamber, making it ready to fire again by another pull of the trigger.

There is no industry standard for the operational controls on pistols. A pistol may or may not have a manual safety. If available, this is usually located on the upper left side at the rear (near the thumb). On many pistols, up means safe, and down means fire. Some have the opposite function. Most have an indicator such as a red dot or other icon visible to indicate readiness to fire. Some safeties have an uncocking feature, which requires a downward press. Many semi-auto pistols have no external hammer. Some are designed to be carried "cocked and locked"—that is, cocked with the safety engaged. The uncocking procedure for these carries the same danger as revolvers. Having the pistol owner's instructions or a working knowledge of the pistol is mandatory prior to unloading. 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 be sure to remove the magazine first.
DISCOVERED GUNS

What do you do with a discovered handgun? If it's holstered, leave it there. This is the safest way to remove and handle a handgun. It is not necessary to unload a holstered handgun; unnecessary manipulation increases the risk of discharge. Cut the belt or holster away if necessary. Be aware that a growing number of handguns can be key-locked with a key supplied by the manufacturer. These keys are universal by manufacturer—i.e., all Taurus keys will actuate all Taurus locks.

Absent a holster, a case designed for handgun storage is mandatory to prevent inadvertent manipulation of the trigger. This can be kept in your drug locker or another lockable compartment. Store the handgun in a lockable pistol case; these can be found at many sporting goods stores. Lock the case with its integral lock or a padlock, with the key kept on the ignition ring. This is also a recommended safety measure for holstered handguns.7 If possible, secure the cased handgun in a locking cabinet, such as the one used for your medications.

After turning your patient over at the emergency department, have security take possession of the handgun, and get a receipt. Coordinate the hospital's firearm policy with your own, and make sure the patient is made aware of the disposition of their property.

Some patients may be reluctant to surrender their handguns. They may not want an untrained person touching their gun, or to risk its misplacement. EMS providers may also, for a variety of reasons, be barred from possessing handguns. In such cases, give custody of the gun to a relative who may legally possess it, leave it in the home or locked in the trunk of a car, or unload it prior to transport. If none of these solutions are acceptable to the patient, EMS may have to request an LEO.

EMS safety is paramount. If at any time a crew is not comfortable with an armed patient or a scene seems unsafe, withdraw and wait for an LEO. For more on handling armed patients who are violent toward EMS, see the sidebar Bad Intentions.
CONCLUSION

While armed patients may not be encountered frequently, their handguns require knowledge and training to be properly handled. Your first priority is to end your shift safely. No EMS agency wants its personnel to become victims of assault, or to be responsible for mishandling a weapon that hurts someone. Be aware of your surroundings, and know how to handle firearms safely.
Table 1: Handling Firearms Safely

Col. Jeff Cooper, one of the 20th century's foremost experts on small arms, developed four basic rules for the safe handling of guns:

1. Always consider all guns to be loaded.
2. Never point the muzzle at anything you aren't willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger and other objects off the trigger and out of the trigger guard at all times.
4. Always be sure of your target.

For more, see The Gun Zone -- "The Rules".
References

1. Effects of Gun Control.

2. ARIZONA CCW PERMIT COURSE - Concealed Carry Weapons Permit Class.

3. Texas DPS - Conviction Rates Reports.

4. Philip Van Cleave, president, Virginia Citizens Defense League.

5. Handgunlaw.us.

6. www.unicam.state.ne.us/legal/SLIP_LB454.pdf.

7. Shooting Supplies, Reloading, Gunsmithing, Hunting, Ammunition, Gun Parts & Rifle Scopes — MidwayUSA.

Alan W. Rose is a paramedic with Medical Transport LLC, and works in Southampton County, VA's EMS system. Reach him at [email protected].
 
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