Ohio paramedics working with SWAT teams could carry guns, bill says

Paramedics and EMTs who work with SWAT teams may be permitted to carry handguns on the job for self-defense, if a bill sponsored by state Rep. Wes Retherford becomes law.

“We want the ability to defend ourselves,” said Kris Prosser, a lieutenant with the Colerain Twp. Fire Department and an assistant team leader for the Hamilton County Police Association SWAT Team. “We are not trying to play police officers, we’re not trying to arrest people or enforce laws.”

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Prosser said medical personnel on SWAT teams wear virtually the same uniforms as sworn police officers and they may be in danger as they provide medical care to injured cops or bystanders at the scene.

Retherford introduced House Bill 79, which would allow “tactical medical professionals” attached to law enforcement teams to carry firearms on duty, provided they meet training requirements.

Training programs would be done through police academies. Once certified, the paramedic or EMT would be automatically qualified to carry concealed weapons, even without obtaining a CCW permit.

Retherford described the training requirements as “pretty extensive.” And he said it would be a “permissive” program so paramedics and SWAT teams would choose whether to participate.

Prosser said eventually he would like to see a law passed that allows paramedics and EMTs to carry firearms while on regular duty. He said it is not uncommon for paramedics to be threatened or assaulted while out on medical runs.

“We have no way to defend ourselves, other than our bare hands,” he said.

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