It was about 10:30 pm. The shift was almost over. We’d been in service since 5 pm. All three of us (the driver and the OIC as well as myself) had worked a full eight-hour day for our day jobs before showing up for another seven hours on the ambulance. I was nodding off in the office when the station alarm went off. We were dispatched to a 70-year-old man who’d been involved in an assault. Monday nights are always the slow night of the week for calls, but this one was shaping up nicely.
Thirty seconds after dispatch, we were rolling out of the ambulance bay. Two minutes later we rolled up on the scene (response times are ridiculously good around here). The police were already taking statements. It looked as if they’d been there for some time. The victim was talking to the police through an interpreter (he only spoke Spanish). The vic barely had a scratch on him.
The police officer leaned over to us and mumbled “I’m sorry to call you guys out for something trivial like this, but all he has is a little scratch on the back of his hand and I’m out of bandages.”
We asked the standard set of questions. Do you need to go to the hospital? Did you hit your head? Do you want us to examine you? He made it clear that he just wanted to be on his way. But as we were standing there, he kept saying something to the police and making the standard gesture for “gun” with his hand. It took the cops a couple minutes to realize what he was saying. They finally asked “did your attacker have a gun?” Yes, yes he did.
The victim hopped a bus after finishing the police report. The officer filled us in. Apparently, someone grabbed a woman’s bag on a bus and tried to make off with it. The man we’d treated stood up and blocked the bad guy from escaping, trying to get the bag back. A scuffle ensued. The attacker drew a gun. The man stood his ground. The attacker left without the bag and without firing a single shot.
What made me nervous about that situation wasn’t being next to a large white box with flashing lights talking to someone who was ratting out a guy who was on the loose in the area with a gun. It was how badly that situation could have turned if another “Good Samaritan” had drawn their gun in that man’s defense. Two pistols hastily aimed and quickly fired on a crowded bus could have made for a level of carnage that I thankfully have yet to see while in uniform. But, on the other hand, if done properly then the assailant would have been arrested instead of fleeing into the inky blackness of the night.
I’m conflicted about how I would have handled the situation if it had been me on that bus. So my question is this: would you have stepped in to stop this guy from getting away with the woman’s purse (like the older Hispanic gentleman on Monday night did) if you were carrying a concealed weapon, even if you didn’t intend to employ the use or threat of deadly force? How about once the older man was threatened with a gun, would you have intervened with deadly force on his behalf?