As much as I hate the idea, I now believe that it is time to arm Fire/EMS. For years I preached that it is against everything that we stand for to be armed. It was my belief that our good intent would keep us safe for the most part, that the populace we serve appreciates us, and knows that we are ambassadors of goodwill.
“Our neutrality is our strength,” I wrote, and believed it. The “us against them” mentality has no place in what we do, rather it is “us helping us,” or so I believed.
Things have changed. I have changed. Now that I am no longer on the streets and out of the line of fire I have time to observe the bigger picture. Society is constantly changing cycles, sometimes numerous times during a person’s working life. The cycle we inhabit presently is based on an Us vs. Them philosophy. The divide between race, politics and religion has not been this deep in any point of my lifetime. The blatant disrespect for any kind of authority that is any way different from what we believe is rampant. Cries of RESIST drown out pleas to COEXIST. Right vs. Left, Muslim vs. Christian, Rich vs. Poor and any combination imaginable are what drives present philosophy, and because of that, hostility toward our fellow man is now acceptable, encouraged and acted upon.
Mike Rowe recently wrote how millions of Americans now believe their feelings are more persuasive than their arguments. They are encouraged to act on those feelings by the media of their choosing rather than bother with obtaining facts and considering options and consequences for their actions. The result is an angry populace that is ready, willing and able to lash out at those they feel are representatives of the oppressor class, of which people in uniform-any uniform belong. Firefighters and EMS personnel are being attacked, injured and killed by the very people we are sent to help. Depending on the goodwill of the people to keep us safe is not realistic in the emotionally charged atmosphere we presently inhabit.
I still believe that arming the people who do the work of saving lives and property is a poor choice. Firefighters and medics need to be concerned with the job they encounter, and carrying a firearm impedes that. What I propose is adding armed security to Fire/EMS crews. Having a person committed to the crew they are assigned to protect, on the same radio frequency, in the same apparatus and on the same wavelength as the responders – without the concerns of mitigating whatever emergency they are sent to handle allows some measure of safety on every call they respond to. An armed guard can size up an emergency scene as a protector, rather than a person sent to help. They can focus on threats rather than illness or injuries. They can be the eyes of the firefighters and medics while they are doing the work of keeping the population alive.
It is unfortunate that armed security for our firefighters and EMS crews is something to consider. What is more unfortunate is the fact that they are under attack, and that is not going to change any time soon.