Fire and EMS first responders routinely respond to the same violent incidents that police officers do. While they typically endeavor to await the arrival of law enforcement prior to entering a known dangerous scene, they operate in an extremely dynamic field and even the most innocuous sounding "sick call" can rapidly turn into a violent incident. Evidence of this can be found in two studies (McGuire et al, 2009)* which showed that pre-hospital emergency medical services providers are 7 times more likely to be murdered on duty than all other healthcare providers. It also showed that Fire and EMS first responders are 22 times more likely, than the working public at large, to sustain injuries in a violent assault that leave them unable to return to work for their next shift. There are many other studies that support these findings, as well. I do not see this as only a problem for EMS providers around the nation, it is also a very real problem for me personally. While responding to a night club shooting where law enforcement was inaccurately reported to be on scene, my crew walked into an incident that turned violent in seconds. We were lead to believe that the scene was secure, yet suddenly I found myself face to face with an armed man who stood behind the kneeling members of my crew and individually held a pistol to the back of each of their heads. Had he decided to kill us, we would have had no recourse except to await our turn to be shot. These scenes have played out hundreds of times around the both Texas and the country. Every day that our first responders lives are placed in the hands of agencies who yield to political correctness and financial liability over their right to defend themselves, quite literally brings us one day closer to the next severely injured first responder. Or even worse, the next flag draped coffin. Currently The great State of Texas allows first responders to carry on duty but it also allows for an employer to restrict or prohibit their employees from exercising their right to carry. Most employing agencies prohibit their employees from carrying on the job for fear of liability. This concern is addressed in the language of the proposed bill. A simplified explanation is included below** as well as a link to an informational YouTube video***. *McGuire et al. "Occupational Fatalities in EMS: A Hidden Crisis." & "The Epidemiology of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Among EMS Personnel"
**On Duty Concealed Handgun License (ODCHL) Proposal
I. I would like to propose that on duty first responders (FRs) be permitted to exercise their right to carry a concealed weapon for self defense.
A. Currently Texas law grants FRs the right to carry but their employers can restrict or prohibit them from exercising that right.
II. I propose increased training requirements, at the candidate’s expense. This curriculum would include the prerequisite of obtaining a standard Texas license to carry and then additional training in the following subjects (est. 40 hrs), to be permitted to carry on duty:
A. De-escalation techniques
B. Cover and concealment of both person and weapon (tactical thinking)
C. Consequences of improper use
D. Small arms training:
i. Instinctive shooting
ii. Tactical shooting
iii. Shooting & moving
iv. Low light shooting
v. Shoot/don't shoot drills "Hogan's Alley"
III. Current Texas laws prohibit the carrying of a concealed weapon in several specific locations.
A. These exceptions to CHL rights should not be affected by the ODCHL endorsement if the card carrier is off duty.
B. While on duty, and functioning under exigent circumstances, the ODCHL endorsement should supersede location restrictions.
i. The Supreme Court ruling in 'US vs. Lopez' showed that the states have the right to set where, and by whom, those restrictions can be set or abandoned
ii. The exceptions to that rule would be federal installations where 'US vs. Lopez' is not applicable
iii. For these rare possibilities, as well as for fire incidents, a secure location should be provided for storage of a firearm. (Approx. $40 per unit retail)
iv. The on duty exception for First Responders with an ODCHL would be similar in Tex30.06 to the FR exemption provided in Tex30.05 IV. Agency indemnification/Municipal limitations of liability
A. Language should grant first responder employing agencies immunity from civil liability
B. Exceptions to this rule include: Negligently failing to reasonably provide for first responder protection. Examples include:
i. Failure to send law enforcement on a known dangerous situation
ii. Failure to send law enforcement assistance in a timely manner when on scene units request help
iii. Failure to provide accurate available information to responding units (ie. Dispatching a fire/EMS unit to a known shooting but sending it as a "Medical Problem".
***Informational YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/hLQqZly3gsc