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Certain EMS personnel allowed to carry firearms in high-risk situations

Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 9:42 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law in July 2019 allowing properly trained physicians and paramedics to carry firearms while responding with a SWAT team or special response unit to high-risk scenarios like an active shooter or hostage situation.

“It’s a great tool to have, another great person to have on the team but it also gives that person the ability to defend themselves if a deadly force encounter does occur,” said Bay County Sheriff’s Office Captain David Baldwin. “In the past, they didn’t have that option, they were unarmed and probably felt quite alone in that situation.”

Officials with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office say they have one tactical medical professional on hand whenever SWAT is called out. They say they’re essentially another member of the team as they go through the same physical and firearms training.

”They understand the stress of what’s taking place, they understand the tactics, they understand what the team is going to do in certain situations,” said Baldwin. “It makes an invaluable asset to have in an immediate “hot zone” for immediate medical attention for the citizens, bad guys, and law enforcement as well.”

Officials say members of the SWAT team are trained to deal with gunshot wounds and other injuries they may encounter but say adding a paramedic or physician that can still protect themselves can help save more lives in less time.

”That time frame has been cut down to where that tactical medical personnel can be on scene in the hot zone and doing their job immediately, saving lives,” said Baldwin.

Officials say the tactical medical professional with Bay County SWAT was on scene during the hostage situation in Springfield earlier this year and was able to treat victims as they were released.

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