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Florida law now allows trained paramedics to carry firearms on dangerous calls

Other states have already passed laws allowing medical responders to protect themselves at work.

Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In case you haven't heard the news, the state of Florida now allows paramedics to carry to dangerous emergency calls for their own self-protection.

A story at the Palm Beach Post last week explains that the law, which went into effect at the beginning of July, does not allow for emergency medical personnel to be armed for their day-to-day responsibilities, but only in special circumstances. These are events like active shooter incidents, narcotics raids, and hostage situations.

"Our policy is very clear, " EMS bureau chief of rescue for Martin County Fire Rescue Chris Kammel told the newspaper. "You will not see any Martin County Fire Rescue employees getting out of an ambulance or a fire engine with a firearm on their side."

The law, which was signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in early June, also requires the medical responders to hold concealed weapons permits in order to be eligible to carry, according to ABC Action News Tampa Bay. They also have to go through gun safety training and take yearly tactical training.

The state legislator who initially put the bill forward said that the idea was born out of tragedies that the Sunshine State has experienced in recent years.

"This bill comes from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a bank in Sebring, a Fort Lauderdale airport where mass tragedies have occurred and those medics are usually standing right behind the officer that they are assigned to," Republican state Sen. Ed Hooper said in March. "And they are there with every drug that can keep you alive if they survive, without having anything to defend themselves."

Florida is not the first state to allow its medical first responders to carry when answering especially dangerous emergency calls. In 2016, Kansas enacted a law allowing paramedics, firefighters, and other public employees to carry firearms except in school zones or on private property marked as "gun free." A 2018 Ohio law allows medical responders attached to SWAT teams to carry after receiving appropriate firearms training.

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