First responders are at risk for a wide range of safety and health hazards, which are all job related, but with safety equipment, training and education, they are able to reduce these risks.
A risk that is becoming more prominent is security, which is often correlated with gunfire and physical assault. Several days ago a Missouri firefighter was shot in his helmet and last year, while doing a welfare check a Prince George’s County firefighter was killed.
Many first responders choose to not report their attack, because they see it only as a small threat. On March 17, a man stole an ambulance and ran over a mother of five and 14-year veteran of a New York fire department, both succumbed to their injuries at a local hospital.
Published studies show that there are an average of 700,000 assaults on firefighters reported each year and only 52 percent of medics report assaults that occur, while on duty. Twenty percent of those say safety is a primary concern.
The Baltimore firefighters union is demanding bullet-resistant vests for first responders, which will cost an estimated $100,000. Lawmakers in Texas are taking it a step further and propose a bill that would allow firefighters to carry firearms.
On April 8, a fire commander driving a marked vehicle stopped to assist a woman and her 5-month old grandson, when 38-year-old Michael Awosika fired off a round of shots.
Union leaders say since the 2015 riots, a spike in assault cases involving first responders has become an issue worth talking about.
Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh responded to the demand by saying there is a protocol and perhaps there needs to be more training, so they can understand what protocol is.”
Pugh noted that the city is currently in contract negotiations with the union.