The carrying of MACE and Pepper spray by EMT's, paramedics and hospital police should be prohibited.
Asside from the fact I see no known reason for an EMT or paramedic to be carrying a weapon on duty, these units are notorious for spontaneous discharge when subject to being subjected to being subjected to accidental banging or being slammed around. Units which have been previously discharged are particuliarly susceptible. The degree of hazard varies with the manufacturer of the unit, but there are no national standards for the valves. Initially Smith and Wesson Corporation manufactured these units, but there are dozens of brands, some from China, with varying designs of valves. There is no system for inspecting these units carried by either the hospital police or EMT's at the beginning of a tour and I have seen them on a belt with the plastic safety hinge broken off. The "extra large" so-called "forty-shot" units have gained increased popularity.
This problem is significant during disasters when a paramedic of EMT may be in a narrow passage way under a slab of concrete pulling someone out, in a shaftway, or in a situation where if he slips and falls the MACE or pepper spray will be slammed against a wall. Depending upon the vulnerability of the patient exposed to such a spray such a discharge unquestionably may result in death.
Over the years I have been present on three ocasions when these sprays discharged accidentally in the presence of a patient. In one case a paramedic fell down the stairs in a nursing home while moving an elderly patient with COPD. He carried an "extra large" unit on his belt, which began to discharge. In a second case a unit discharged when an ambulance slammed on it's brakes suddenly and the paramedic fell to the floor of the ambulance, slamming the MACE against the edge of the bench. The third accidental discharge was inside a police car.
I recently observed a paramedic employed by a municipality with an "extra large" container in a holster on his belt in an emergency room. I shudder to think of the problems that would be encountered by the accidental discharge of such a unit. I also see hospital police routinely carrying these "self-defense" devices. These units have no place whatsoever inside a hospital.
What with the large number of violent drug affected especially methaphetamine affected people that they face often- they definitely need protection. Domestic dispute situations can easily lead to people directing violence against paramedics. Hospital security can also help so much- protection is needed sooner than that and violent people can easily cause injury in such tight spaces and gain access to the many potential weapons in a hospital. The only issue should be what is a reasonable protection for such professionals that is safe for themselves and others. Maybe martials arts training or tasers would be more appropriate.
In many cases Emt's/Paramedics are the first to arrive on a violent scene. The must have the ability to protect themselves. I think a taser or stun gun is more than appropriate a long with mandatory training.
I think I would have to agree with rpoo, often times they do arrive on a very violent scene and have to be able to protect themselves with pepper spray. Maybe it could just be in case of an emergency they keep it in the car or depending on the situation they are going into if they take it or not. They do need to protect themselves as well as help protect the already injured.
Respectfully, MACE should never be kept in any ambulance. Storage of MACE or carrying MACE should be grounds for immediate dismissal. The first duty is to the patient, and accidental discharge in the rig will mean a death sentence for a certain universe of patients. If they arrive on a violent scene they should leave. Not "Mace" the crowd or anyone.
In the unfortunate event you found yourself in critical condition on a violent sceen wouldn't the last thing you want to see is the paramedics leave?
Paramedics are educated people as are our law enforcement. I'm sure proper training and safety procedures can be put into place to protect the safety of the medic. Proper training would not be to disfuse a violent situation.
One of the family had been and EMT in a large eastern city. She eventually moved into management. In all the years she was with EMS I never once heard her refer to mace, pepper spray, or anything else dangerous. And this was in spite of the fact that guns were sometimes used to threaten the EMT's. I wonder if the difference has to do with the city or part of the country.
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