SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -- In less than a month, Florida paramedics could be armed with more than the skills to save a life.
A bill signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis allows trained EMS personnel to accompany law enforcement in dangerous situations.
In the past, paramedics had to stand at a safe distance until law enforcement gave the all-clear when a patient is found. Now, specially trained paramedics can assist law enforcement in these high-risk situations such as drug raids and hostage situations if they meet the criteria.
DeSantis signs a new measure allowing medics to carry a firearm. The law creates the ability for medic personnel to have the same privileges as law enforcement officers during high-risk situations.
“This is actually something where the police have decided that this is a situation where they want the support of paramedics in the street," Sarasota County EMS Chief Carson Sanders said. "This is solely to support those special operators and tactical medicine that may be in a dangerous situation and we want to be there to help them.”
And that’s if they meet the criteria. In order to be eligible to carry, the paramedic must already have a concealed weapons permit, complete firearm safety training and also participate in annual tactical training.
Sarasota County’s EMS Chief says the bill is only designed to help law enforcement in limited situations. He also points out that the paramedic’s first job is to take care of people medically.
“We don’t want there to be a concern on the citizens part that a paramedic on an ambulance would be packing a weapon," Sanders said. "That’s not in the plans and that is not what the bill addresses. The bill is solely for tactical medics to support the SWAT teams and the tactical operators for the police and the sheriff’s office. It’s up to the police and sheriff’s office how they want to do it.”
For Attorney Jeff Young, he feels this bill will certainly be beneficial in the long run. “Anytime you can have responsible people who have firearms that are going into dangerous situations," Young said. "It’s always better for the good guy to outnumber the bad guys.”
The law will take effect on July 1st of this year.
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