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Reader Judie writes:

I look out the only pane of glass near me that isn’t bulletproof. I’m aware of the K9 officer and his German Shepard sticking close to the triage desk as I take in what small parts of the sky I can see through forty story skyscrapers. The dog is the only one disinterested as I and the rest of the hospital’s “unarmed” security force digest the latest radio call. Local PD/Highway Patrol had just called in to notify us that some thirty or so members of a known biker gang were trailing an incoming ambulance . . .

Among those aboard the expensive white taxi were an EMT or two, the ambulance driver and, more important to this story, a horizontal, but still alive member of the riding crew. The patient was prominent among them, and a vehicle had just smashed into their convoy injuring him. They were not happy.

There was a duality to the situation as the first black leather-clad riders pulled into the the ER lot. Behind the scenes, the injured individual had just arrived and was being transported to our trauma unit. We would be courteous as we escorted them to the dedicated room wherein they could await status updates on the patient, but we had had incidents with biker gangs (including this one) in the past. We were prepared for the worst.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had to tell a group of scowling men, some of whom have more mass in their right bicep than I do in my upper torso, that they can’t park where they chose to plant their bikes on the way in to see if someone close to them is still sucking air. Luckily, I haven’t either. That’s the job of my direct supervisor. His heart is in the right place but he can lack tact in tricky situations. They’re visibly, and audibly, furious.

As I step outside I’m in weapons-scan mode. Their leather jackets are offering a lot of concealment. The round Mexican fellow is clear. Caucasian male, spiky hair…clear. Skinny one with the full beard…the well-worn muzzle face of a 1911. He turns to an angle and his jacket flap follows a second behind him. That’s just long enough to get a full picture of the gun; it’s definitely a 1911. That’s the only one visible, but I’m not so new to the concealment game as to assume everyone present is unarmed. The group disappears to find a better spot for their bikes. Between the departure and re-arrival of the recently and reluctantly relocated band of brothers, Slimbeard ditched the 1911.

I make certain they know we’re here to help if they need anything, and they’re escorted back to the proper waiting room. It’s then that a coworker is informed that one of the gang leaders is soon to arrive. Slimbeard would like us to inform him before the leader — let’s call him Buzzsaw — enters the hospital. Slimbeard wants to meet and brief Buzzsaw before he comes in.

It seems that Buzzsaw doesn’t play well with others, and today Slimbeard and company want what I want. The bikers don’t want to today to go south any more than it already has for them, and I want to keep the medical staff, our visitors, and patients safe. Buzzsaw being spun down before he makes the first set of doors seems like the best way to ensure our goals are met.

Minutes pass. The swelling sounds of a veritable motorcade approaching clue me in to what’s coming next. Buzzsaw has arrived. If I thought the first bikers to get here were furious, Buzzsaw was Michael Bay Presents: FURIOUS – F The World and Everyone In It. In IMAX.

Buzzsaw is throwing punches in the air as he took his helmet off in order to speak with his compadres. Having never left weapons-scan mode, I observe him and his entourage. There. I know the texture of that plastic. The bottom of a GLOCK clearly visible in a back left pocket that belongs to none other than the man himself. As he finished up a bout of yelling and fist throwing, clearly satisfied the dry air had been taught a lesson, he makes a beeline for the ER doors.

I undo the shirt button closest to my 4.0 model XDs, a precaution in the event I need to quickly facilitate its emergence from my DeSantis SOF-TUCK.

To be clear, I’m not sold on the hospital being a gun-free zone. There are ways to go about keeping everyone safe and still respecting the Second Amendment rights of everyone who walks through the door, but that debate can receive the attention it deserves at another time. For now, just let me tell you about our official modus operandi when it comes to firearms.

We don’t frisk visitors for weapons. We don’t have stationary metal detectors. We’re an inner city Level I trauma center that’s unfortunately on the long list of hospitals that doesn’t even have a solid active shooter plan. That’s after playing host to a shooting in a patient room that resulted in one fatality. Our policy as it stands is that if we see your gun when you enter, we ask that you to either return it to your vehicle, sign a form and check it into our locked weapons storage area, or leave the property.

Buzzsaw’s not a bad guy, not by me anyway. He’s just angry that a careless driver had put his friend, his brother, in the hospital. Keeping that in mind as I elicit his attention in the airlock-like security checkpoint, I inform him that he can’t enter the building with his piece. The no guns sign on the door doesn’t carry the force of law here, but in this case my words do.

Annoyed, he nods and takes a step back toward his buddies. Here’s where I admit to being surprised by a couple of things. With his back toward me he reaches into the back left pocket using only his index finger and thumb and produces a GLOCK 19 (sans holster) . Good Lord, I hope he does birthday parties. But the size of the gun he carried there isn’t the most shocking revelation because his right hand is simultaneously plucking an identical G19 from his right rear pocket.

My mind snaps at my failure. I had just closely scrutinized that exact portion of his body. I hadn’t so much as made out the outline of an object, let alone the presence of a second firearm there. What if the worst came to be and that overlooked firearm had been pivotal in the death of someone present?

He muzzle sweeps a companion as the guns are passed to a woman and walked off property to be secured. I open the second set of ER doors for Buzzsaw, and the rest of the bikers are polite or wear silent scowls.

Though no gunfight or wrestling bouts happen today, I walk away with a valuable lesson. You simply cannot assume anyone’s unarmed. Ever. Even if you spot someone’s gun and watch them set it aside, they could have another that you didn’t catch. I speak with over a hundred people daily who would never guess I’m carrying. Watch for these things. Think about every defensive situation in the context that there’s a small chance anyone/everyone near you is armed. Stay alert. Stay vigilant and be safe.


Names and locations have been edited for HIPAA compliance reasons and a general lack of desire to piss off armed motorcycle gangs. Buzzsaw is actually less intense than his chosen moniker.

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    • I remember when a bunch of my old bouncer friends rode down to TN, they went to a bar that had a metal detector and were asked to check their weapons 8 men 12 knives and 5 firearms three of them had already secured theirs on their bikes. It was already known that they all worked as security in a bar when the bouncer jokingly told them they were going to keep an eye on them and winked

      • Would off-duty cops also be required to disarm and leave the firearm unattended in his or her vehicle? I ask because disarming an off-duty cop obstructs their ability to exercise their official duties if they are present during the commission of a crime. All it takes is a match, and a piece of cloth to turn and ordinary bottle of Vodka into a Molotov cocktail and the metal detectors do not pickup matches. Also with the firearm being left unattended anyone that saw the firearm as it was stored in the vehicle will know where to go to get a free gun which would cause more guns to end in the criminal underworld.

        • Gunbuster signs apply to everyone equally, including off duty AND on duty cops UNLESS on OFFICIAL business such as responding to a 911 call or pursuing a suspect, although rarely enforced against the “Badged Ones.”

        • I had more than one occasion where I carried off-duty and hospital security asked me to store my weapon. I told them to pound sand. They finally took the hint when they realized that 3 of the 4 men in the room visiting their mother were LEO’s.

  1. Those dudes sound cool. I actually enjoy the idea of everyone being armed around me. It makes me feel more comfortable. I’d rather be in a sea of fellow carriers than be a lone carrier in a sea of sheep.

    • I’d offer to help Buzzsaw holster shop and try to cram in some gun safety. a G19 holsterless in each pocket is a bad time just waiting to happen.

  2. I guess I don’t get Judie’s point. The presence of guns doesn’t correlate to danger. I’m not concerned about guns, I’m concerned about threats. Aren’t we better off scanning for suspicious behavior, rather than looking for tel-tale outlines and holster clips?

    • They are already a threat. I take it you’ve never been around %1’ers before? lol.. He’s identified the people around him most likely to be armed, and has begun scanning them for obvious signs of weapons. Sounds like he’s doing the right thing. I wish security at my hospital was even half that competent.

    • My brother-in-law works in the trauma center of a hospital near an unseemly part of New Jersey. You would be amazed at the respect that people have for medical professionals. The bikers probably aren’t inherently bad people, but society in general would view them as miscreants. However, the code on the street seems to be that you should always be nice to the person who might be responsible for saving your life one day. Or in the case of the above posted story, the people responsible for saving the life of their friend and brother at that exact moment.

        • There are a lot of places in Jersey, that if you saved every penny you made for your entire life, you couldn’t afford the grounds keeper’s cottage…say what want, but there’s big money in Jersey. (Along with BIG taxes and sucky gun laws)

        • “There are a lot of places in Jersey, that if you saved every penny you made for your entire life, you couldn’t afford the grounds keeper’s cottage…say what want, but there’s big money in Jersey. (Along with BIG taxes and sucky gun laws)”

          So what? You say that like money is some sort of deciding factor in desirability. Maybe it is for some folks, but for some us…that means less than squat.

          I’d rather live in a “poor” area with a strong sense of neighborliness and community than a statist cesspool like NJ no matter how much money floats around.

        • For the price of a grounds keeper cottage in Jersey, you could get an estate in other states.

          Being overpriced doesn’t make Jersey any less a dump.

      • This is BS. My wife is an RN in a not very dangerous mid sized city ER. The abuse that she and her colleagues put up with is incredible not just from the stream of untreated mentally ill frequent flyers that get brought in because no one knows what to do with them but also from regular people who are having a bad day. The security at her hospital is minimal with no metal detectors and the security staff is a joke. Nurses, aids, and security people are injured all the time.

        BTW, guns are strictly prohibited.

    • The bikers were pissed that their friend got hit by a car and were obviously concerned for his wellbeing. That doesn’t mean they were angry at the hospital staff, if anything they would be appreciative that their friend was getting help.

      • That’s true, but it would have been easy, even a bit understandable, if that anger would cause them to be less than diplomatic with the aid staff.

  3. Audio-streaming ads with autostart are beyond what we can tolerate from a website.

    I know you need cash but that’s how to drive folks away.

    • You can shut off auto play ads and videos in your google settings if you’re using chrome. Just google shut off auto play.. I’m sure other programs have similar features. But, I agree that auto play anything is obnoxious.

    • Jim. You must be new here. This has been answered so many times its getting old.
      Ads provide revenue. No one works for free.

      You have the option to block ads. Just look in your web-browsers privacy and security settings to find options block popups, flash, or use other tools. I am on IE10 with mid-level cookies protection and pop ups blocked- no ads seen here.

      If that is not enough, then try another free browser and use that to read online- I like PaleMoon, the open source free and slimmed down version of Firefox, where you can add on more third party extensions and plugins like Ad Block Plus, Ghostery, and more.

      You might check out NoScript if you want to really get carried away tweaking things, turning off the ‘scripts’ that launch the ads. Its a bit of work but worth it to be ahead of the LIVs.

      Come back and ask for more help if you cant block them after that, or search online for how-tos.

      • Blocking ads means the site makes zero money. Perhaps some people wish to add an exception to TTAG to their ad blockers to support the site. But if things are going to auto-play? Nope.jpg. No ads shall pass.

      • I use noscript to counter stuff like autoplay but of course that also takes out most of the regular ads too…

      • Ads are fine. Even autoplay video ads that are default muted are understandable and generally not a problem. Ones that autoplay and make noise without permission or popovers/popunders? That’s a hard no.

      • I would rather NOT block ads of sites I support and like, and hence earn them money.

        But the ad networks continue to be idiots (in line with the pop-under/pop-up mess of the early Javascript days), and autoplaying videos are just ridiculous.

        How much does TTAG really earn for my views?

    • On a Mac, Disconnect works well. I agree that sites need the revenue but it does become very annoying. It won’t matter if ‘net neutrality’ gets in, all we’ll see is Oblamo’s face everywhere.

  4. Great post, Dan.

    Reminds me of the old saw I first heard from a Marine DI on the range:

    “Maggot, how do you spell ASSUME?!”

    “What happens when you make an A$$ of U and ME.

  5. “The dog is the only one disinterested as I and the rest of the hospital’s “unarmed” security force digest the latest radio call.”

    The writer mixed up her prefixes. The dog is uninterested, and the security force is disarmed.

  6. “Among those aboard the expensive white taxi were an EMT or two, the ambulance driver…”

    For all this guy’s situational awareness he has never taken the time to notice that there is no such thing as an “ambulance driver?”

    There are: EMTs, paramedics, fire and police. Any of which can be found driving an ambulance depending on the situation, but there is no job in the emergency services spectrum that involves only driving an ambulance like a taxi.

    You are employed in private security, pride yourself in minute attention to detail when it comes to printing, but you don’t even know the types of individuals you’d allow back into the ER without stopping or IDing?

    Up your attention to detail.

    • D-Medic,
      You’re absolutely correct, in our part of the world. EMT, Spec, and Medic are the three levels in Michigan, and any of which can be found driving the ambulance.

      Who’s to say that the writer is in MI though? In some states and localities, there IS a position that is essentially an “ambulance driver”. They have no medical licensing or training and are paid ONLY to operate the vehicle.

      In any other case, I would agree with your assessment that perhaps Dr Tactical here could brush up on the people who frequently visit the hospital.

      • Hell I’d want my ambulance driver to be as dedicated and trained a professional in getting point A to B in a large vehicle with a quickness as my EMTs are in handling trauma and triage.

    • Howdy! Well aware of everyone on my ambulances. Well, not everyone. There are a whole lot of them. It was a failure in sentence structure not knowledge of who drives. It’s usually, but not always, an EMT.

    • Some EMS professionals embrace the term “ambulance driver” while others find it insulting. Regardless, you can thank Ernest Hemingway for the perpetuation of the term, from his accounts as an actual AD during WWI.

  7. Bikers are always armed. Even when you’ve disarmed them, they’re always armed. Good job. You got the glocks. He probably had at least one more holdout and a few blades on him. If you are in any sort of enforcement role, you should never categorize these types as disarmed. Ever.

  8. This story brings back memories. I was also an unarmed security guard at the Level 1 trauma center hospital of a major university (not inner city). We also had armed campus police (real police who had trained with the local city police) as well as the city and state police who would come to the ER with the accident victims and community knife and gun club. One day we were informed that a biker had been brought in after having survived a pipe bomb explosion, and the reports were that the guys who had tried to take him out were planning to come back to finish the job. Each of us unarmed guards was to take a shift sitting outside the dude’s room as dissuasion to the angry bikers. We asked the shift sergeant what we were supposed to do if the gang showed up. He said we were supposed to call for help on our radios and then block the door to the guy’s room! Needless to say, we unarmed guards had other ideas, and made sure to know where all the exits were. This bothered me for a long time, and still does. The sergeant and his bosses were good guys but had to enforce the “rules”. The same rules of those who will not train and arm teachers, and who are against campus carry. The bizarre expectation that unarmed people, like the principal and school counselor who were the first ones killed at Sandy Hook, should take instead of give the first bullets in the one in a million situation when a crazy person appears. All to give life to the “non-violence” fantasies of a political elite.

  9. I find it ironic that you assume that the skinny bearded guy ditched the 1911 rather than changing to deep concealment especially since this story is about never assuming that someone is disarmed.

    • That’s why I don’t understand Judie’s whole point. Either they will voluntarily comply with hospital policy, or not. If they want to be armed, they’re gonna be armed. Judie’s obsession with gun detection didn’t make the hospital any safer.

      • It is even worse since her requesting Buzz saw to disarm required him physically manipulate the firearms in a manner that increased the likelihood of a negligent discharge. If Buzz saw cause a negligent discharge while disarming than it could have potentially caused anyone he muzzled to be shot directly and/or hit by a ricochet including possibly Judie herself. The risk of Negligent discharges including ones likely to ricochet is reason enough to let properly holstered firearms to be left alone.

        • But neither firearm was properly holstered. And if the emphasis should not be on firearms detection then there is no distinction between a holstered or in holstered firearm from an outside perspective. Thus in reality all firearms are best left alone, holstered or not.

  10. Unarmed security. Now that’s an oxymoron. You need to work out officer Judie(betcha’ Ralph remembers that)…

  11. Just as “all guns are loaded”, all people are armed – until demonstrated otherwise, and even then maybe.

  12. Without forcing everyone to go through metal detectors, the hospital’s “gun free” policy means nothing. Even with them, it wouldn’t mean much. You just disarm the people who are not a threat. Security theater.

    It is very easy to conceal a full sized 1911 or Glock. Concealing a pocket .380 or a J-frame is even easier. Bikers like that could probably conceal carry a Draco.

  13. “Among those aboard the expensive white taxi were an EMT or two, the ambulance driver…” I know I’m nit-picking but there is no such thing as an “ambulance driver” in EMS, we are all either EMTs or Paramedics, and that “expensive white taxi” has about half of the life savings supplies the ER Has packed inside it. Sorry, but as a paramedic it just really pinches a nerve when people still don’t realize what EMS actually does. You may now continue you regularly scheduled programming.

      • No there are not. A normal ambulance has a 2 person crew. By law both of those crew members have to at least be EMT-B. Many times it is a combination of an EMT-I/A and a paramedic.

        • And the one driving the ambulance is the ambulance driver. Get it? Not always the same person, and yet the one driving the ambulance is the ambulance driver, numbnutz.

  14. Still surprised that there weren’t working metal detectors and armed guards. Took my wife to a Level 1 trauma center in the suburbs recently, and they had both. And, a friend who ran an inner city Level I trauma center for years had both metal detectors and armed police at all times. For the amount that we (or actually our insurance) paid, they can afford both the armed guards and the metal detectors – almost $20k for maybe three hours, and not including the x-rays, CAT scan, and doctors, all billed separately. Scary to think what it would have cost if she had come in on one of their choppers.

  15. I thought the whole focus on ttag is that the mere PRESENCE of arms is insufficient cause to assume criminal intent? You know, a person can own a gun and not automatically be considered a schoolyard shooting, old lady butchering, baby-eating lifetime NRA gun nut. So a person is armed. Big deal.

    • Is the fact that they have had problems with that particular club before sufficient reason to be aware of who is armed? Because that was mentioned loud and clear in the story.

  16. Everyone keeps complaining that Judie seems to be on edge that these people are even carrying — that is not the case. In fact, she mentions it (she disagreed with her hospital’s GFZ policy).

    The fact was that the hospital has had problems in the past with this particular gang of ruffians.

    “Fool me once, shame on me…”

  17. Family members and I worked for several years at a Charity Hospital Trauma Center about twenty years ago. Most of the people we served were armed for self-protection, as were many doctors, nurses, and technicians.

    My awakening came when a little old lady was brought in by her niece who found her on the floor of her home. When we began to examine her, we found a small caliber gun in her bra and another gun in her girdle.

  18. As a biker, I found this interesting reading. I agree with the basic premise that it’s unwise to ever assume anyone is unarmed, and equally important, that everyone is actually armed. It’s a bit like open carry back when I used to be an overnight cashier at a Hellmart in Missouri. The mere presence of someone open carrying a sidearm didn’t make me feel threatened, but it ALWAYS got my attention, no matter how busy the line was. Nothing more, nothing less. Now if something were to happen, then first and foremost any element of surprise was removed from the equation. Now back to the article – why the apparent obsession with someone being armed? Well, of course there was the advance knowledge of their impending arrival. So what followed would only be natural to observe and attempt to determine who was armed.

    As for biker gangs, my understanding is that there would be far more to worry about if there’s two of them involved (as in a shootout elsewhere, with casualties then transported to said hospital.) At that point it might be very wise to call for reinforcements, and lots of it.

    Oh yes, one other thing about assuming. Don’t assume just because I’m a biker I fit the stereotype of a tattooed oaf with vests and chaps on a Harley. I’m actually a solo rider wearing a yellow jacket on a green ZRX1100 – always preferred to blaze my own path, if you will. No tattoos. The oaf part might be about right, and I wish it were ‘easy’ for me to conceal something like a G19 or 1911, but evidently I’m of sufficiently unconventional proportions (that is, a muffin top) that wearing a service sized sidearm IWB is a real hassle.


    • My former(well, it’s still there, but a mere shadow of it’s former state) muffin top was what drove me to carry my G17 IWB, appendix, in a very low riding holster. It was as comfortable as could be, and even broke some smartass acquaintance’s knuckle when he thought he’d be slick and try to “ball tag” me, unaware that there was a giant block of GLOCK brand GLOCK in the way of the fore-implied parts. I noticed more when it was not there. Even when driving 300 miles a day, in and out of a van unloading auto parts, it never became an issue. Now, I carry my Sig P250 .45 “compact”(lol. Compact. Right.) OWB at my 3 o’clock in a rather obnoxious holster, and I still feel strange when I tighten my stomach muscles and don’t feel anything between my belt and body.

      Pretty much, a Marty McFat like my 295 lb, 6’3” at-the-time self comfortably, and entirely concealed a full size “combat” handgun for years IWB. It just had to be up front. Friends who knew sure had some racially inappropriate terms for how I did it, though. 12 o’clock screams “gang banger” to many. Even fellow POTG. Thankfully, I’m down to 225lbs, and can comfortably carry at a much more appropriate location, which is also MUCH easier to draw from. I don’t really care about it being visible at times either. This is a mix of time spent carrying every day, “IDGAF, it’s legal here” and the fact that I’m an apprentice gunsmith and open carry every day at work.

      Also, to the topic at hand, I have carried at every job I’ve ever had since I was of age to obtain a permit. This includes being a pharmacy tech for a year. The difference at the pharmacy was that I was absolutely not the only one packing. If an individual or group tried to hold us up at the wrong time, they would be looking down three Sig Sauer branded .45 caliber tunnels that would be launching lots of flying ashtrays if they did not immediately flee or comply with commands to “DROP THE WEAPON AND GET ON THE F’ING GROUND!!”. Of course, we all would have been fired due to USDA prime “bravo sierra” company policy, but it would have made some nice security footage for the TV shows. Two masked men come in expecting an easy narcotics score, only to have everyone behind the counter take pre-determined defensive positions and each draw the same brand and caliber of handgun and either spur a firefight, a surrender, or a fast run to the exit, post SHTP[ants].

  19. Best statement I’ve ever heard about people being armed….

    “Do not assume someone is unarmed, weapons are meant to be felt, not seen.”

  20. OK, to settle this once and for all, the person driving the ambulance is the ambulance driver. May not be the same person each time, does not change the fact that the person driving the ambulance is the ambulance driver regardless of their other training/qualifications. Period. Full stop. Complaining about it just ensures you will be called ambulance driver irregardless of whether or not you happen to be the one driving on that particular day or run.

    As for assuming about the weapons possession status of the people you meet in your daily routine? Its your life, assume people are unarmed at dire risk to it.

  21. I understand that the website is the truth about guns but “armed” covers a very broad category.

    But . . . there are so many weapons and so many smuggling techniques that it is near impossible to prevent weapons from going where you do not want them. Remember this article from not that long ago:

    Or these words from our own dear Robert Farago:

    “Not to mention the 500-pound amphetamine-crazed gorilla in the room: terrorists.”

    If the kinetic energy of a several .50 cal bmg cartridges could be molded into . . . almost anywhere then you would have C-4 which is recommended by Al Qaida (pulled from wiki):

    “Composition C-4 is recommended in Al-Qaeda’s traditional curriculum of explosives training.”
    Introduction to Explosives” (PDF). C4: Characteristics, Properties, and Overview. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. pp. 4–5. Retrieved 18 July 2014.

    People have a tendency to not worry about explosives until they go off.

    And for all you first responders – a highly effective terrorist technique (made famous by Al Qaida) is setting off a bomb, have you all arrive, then set off a 2nd one . . . or an ensuing gun battle. Lighting can strike anywhere including the same spot.

  22. Hell, Zimmerman, I learned everyone is armed, whether I saw the weapons or not, when I was five. But then, I had an…interesting…childhood.

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