Question of the Day: Do You Worry About Needing Medical Attention While Carrying?

Jason wrote in to TTAG central command with a QOTD suggestion regarding medical care for someone packing heat. Say those years of pork chops, man sodas and Marlboros finally catch up to you while you’re walking down the street and your heart seizes up like the engine in a Yugo when the odometer hits 40K. Now you’re lying on the sidewalk. You may be conscious or not, but in either case you have a shootin’ iron strapped your side. What happens next? We went to our resident EMT, Foghorn, to find out what the medics will do when they figure out the dude on the deck is packing . . .

The standard response is to call the police to deal with the handgun and leave the area if you don’t feel safe. Yep, that means delaying medical treatment. But most seasoned EMTs will simply remove the handgun from the person, slip it into the jump bag they carry, and hand it off to the hospital security guard when they get to the hospital. Especially in the areas I operated (Pennsylvania and Virginia) somewhere around 80% of the EMTs can be found on a gun range during the weekend.

The issue is that if someone comes across you and sees your gun, that’s the first thing they’re going to report to 911. “There’s a guy with a gun passed out over here.” That triggers a police response first, with the EMTs told to “stage” some distance away while the police figure out what’s going on. In urban areas that shouldn’t take long, but in rural areas that could mean a 15 minute or more wait.

In other words, most of the time you’re probably fine – other than the whole myocardial infarction thing. But if you draw a jumpy EMT when they spin the ambulance wheel of fortune, you may be lying there with an advancing case of cerebral hypoxia until a cop arrives on the scene to secure your piece. Have you thought about that possibility? Does it keep you up at night? Should it?

20 Responses to Question of the Day: Do You Worry About Needing Medical Attention While Carrying?

  1. avatarSanchanim says:

    Dan how did you know what my diet is like! lol
    All things aside, That is a concern.
    Me personally I would dive right in and help who ever is keeled over.
    If they were conscious I would let them know that we will make sure the EMT gets the gun when they arrive but honestly probably not report it to 911. When you are having a heart attack or stroke minutes count! Also for those of you who aren’t spring chickens any more carry some real aspirin around with you. Besides being great for those occasional head aches you get in the morning, you know from uhm sinuses it can also save your life if you have a heart attack.

  2. avatarAharon says:

    I worry about needing medical attention with the way I see some people driving.

  3. avatarLT says:

    Can’t stand cigarettes, not a fan of swine (aside from bacon, occasionally), don’t imbibe (if “man sodas” refers to booze), and I have a somewhat healthy lifestyle. Plus, I’m on the lower end of the age scale.

    In short, I ain’t worried about nuttin’… seriously, though, medical concerns are far, far down the list for me. If I’m carrying it’s probably going to be concealed (FL resident) so the medical folks shouldn’t see what I’ve got anyway – if they do, it’s probably because I had to use the thing, in which case I either need a bodybag or not much medical attention at all.

    Regardless, packing heat is far more important to me than the thoughts of some random EMT.

    • avatarMichael B says:

      If you live in FL I’m sure you’re aware of how much people suck at driving down here. Car accidents are a real concern.

      That being said, I’m not worried about it. I have it in a holster and possess a CWL. I’m sure they have some sort of procedure for dealing with this kind of thing.

    • avatarDavidT says:

      Just keep in mind the athletes, people who exercise daily, who have dropped dead of a heart attack. Just because you have a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you are healthy. Even something like Marfans (sp?), which killed John Ritter, has few if any symptoms.

    • [if they do, it’s probably because I had to use the thing, in which case I either need a bodybag or not much medical attention at all.]

      It’s quite possible for the “good guy” to get shot in a gunfight, and still win. Depending on the study, 80 to 85% of people shot with a handgun survive. So an ambulance ride is a distinct possibility.

  4. avatarspymyeyes says:

    Not a nice thought at all, but not one that I bother with.

    If cancer, 11 months of chemo, and almost as many operations has not killed me yet,
    then everything else is a piece of cake to me.

    Hell, IMO I should have died 6 years ago so I take everything in stride and have the outlook of living your life one day at a time and treating each and everyday like it’s your last makes you get the most out of life while you have the chance.

    One day when you least expect it you will find out your time is up and at that point regrets are useless!

  5. avatarRalph says:

    I’d be more likely to need medical attention if I wasn’t carrying.

  6. avatarJohn says:

    I didn’t worry about it, until 11/05/2011. I was to meet at a local restaurant to have breakfast with 4 guys who I have a Saturday morning bible study with. 48 years old, no real medical risks. As I was getting out of my car, I got dizzy and instantly lost half the field of vision in my right eye. I wobbled inside and sat down in a booth for about 5 minutes. I told them I was feeling ill, and asked if they would drive me to the hospital, which was in sight of the restaurant. When I got there, my wife was there, and I asked her to get the security guy. A local off-duty officer came over and I told him I was carrying and asked if he could take charge of my Ruger LCR. He allowed me to unclip the Crossbreed quikclip holster and he took it out to my wife’s car where she put it in the trunk. Had I been unconscious, I don’t know what would have happened. None of the guys I had been meeting with for over a year knew I carried until I lifted my shirt. It turned out to be two small strokes due to a spike in blood pressure. I left the hospital 3 days later. I feel 90% recovered now with normal BP, better diet, and packing 40 fewer pounds of fat around.

    • avatarRalph says:

      I’m glad you made it!

      BTW, I don’t consider myself to be packing 40 lbs. of fat. I prefer to think of it as 40 lbs. of concealment.

  7. avatarNathan says:

    TBH, no I don’t think about it. I’m 23 and in pretty good shape. To parrot some of the other guys, if I need medical assistance for myself, the EMTs wont have to worry about my gun because the cop will take control of it while investigating my DGU.

  8. avatarTom says:

    I am OK as long as idiot drivers who are texting do not plow into me.

  9. avatarAlanna says:

    I carry and worry about this fairly often – just last week my friend’s mom was in the ER, and I worried that if I needed to rush to the hospital from work I would either have to stop at home to drop off my gun, or lock in a desk drawer at work – which I would not be comfortable doing (and I don’t drive to work, so no car to leave it in.) Now, I carry in my purse, and no one would ever know unless they x-rayed my purse or looked in every zippered compartment, but what is the proper protocol if I were to have to go into a hospital and I didn’t have a chance to do anything with my gun? Do I ask to talk to security? If I, personally, were taken to the ER, I doubt anyone would ever find it as I don’t wear it, but I do worry about whom to tell in cases like that.

  10. avatarDan says:

    Off body- we wont find it. Pocket carry – doubtful. Anything else – retrieve from hospital security upon discharge. If conscious and in full control of yourself, reserve tact and either place sidearm in personal clothes bag bundled in your jeans or request security. It happens regularly.

  11. avatarBruce W. Krafft says:

    I had a fun one; went to the ER one night with chest pain (this was a few years after my first heart attack), they whisked me back and I disarmed onto a table in the examining room. Security dude came in to take custody of my weapon; he was wearing a jacket and tie (which should have tipped me off). He went to the weapon, picked it up with his finger on the trigger and proceeded to laser me and everyone else in the room as he was trying to figure out how to unload it (a simple Baby Eagle; drop the mag, rack the slide, done). Thank G-d I had put the safety on when I removed it (I normally carry off-safe with a round in the chamber, hammer back if I’m carrying a 1911 type). He finally came over, pointed the weapon at me with his f$^&ing finger still on the trigger and asked me how to work it.

    I said calmly and quietly “Well, for starters could you point it at the ceiling? Now take your finger off the trigger? Thank-you. Now push this button here which removes the – no, keep it pointed up please- now remove the magazine. Now grab the back there with your left – please keep it pointed at the ceiling and please keep your finger off the trigger; thank-you. Now grab it there with your left hand and pull back. There, now it is unloaded.” Then I blew my stack. “Don’t they teach you idiots anything?!?! Do you know how many people you just pointed a loaded weapon at with your finger on the trigger?!?!
    I had a few more choice words to say to the head of security when I got out of the hospital and went to get my gun. I pointed out that since MN had passed “shall-issue” a couple of years before, they might want to teach their “security” people basic firearms safety.

  12. avatarGeoff says:

    As a Paramedic, I would react similarly except I live in NYS. I would commit a felony as soon as I touched your handgun if it was not on my permit. We have to leave it in your possession or have a police officer take possession of it.

  13. avatarAlan Rose says:

    You’d be surprised how many EMS agencies do NOT have a procedure for this. I addressed this very scenario in an article for EMS World a few years ago (link below). It never occurred to me that in some situations like NYS that EMS could not take the firearm. I would assume “exigent circumstances” would allow it in many cases though.

    http://www.emsworld.com/article/10320548/pistol-packin-patients

  14. avatarrevjen45 says:

    I was struck by the side mirror of a delivery van and knocked unconscious for 8-10 min. By the time I returned to reality and said “WTF,over?” the police had finished rifling my person and had my carry guns. I got them back the next day at Obergruppenamt der Polizei.

  15. avatarIdaho Bob says:

    A couple years ago I hit a deer while riding a motorcycle. Over the handlebars and hit the pavement breaking both of my arms. I was conscious when the sheriff deputies arrived. I informed the cop that I was packing. He took my pistol, unloaded it, and placed it inside a small zippered pocket the backpack I was wearing. He followed the ambulance to the hospital and gave the backpack to my wife.

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