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Dan and I spent a fascinating evening recently with the endlessly gregarious Rick Bongiovanni (above). The Operations Manager at Houston’s minimalist Athena Gun Club (think Apple Store for guns and shooting) is a firearms instructor, former cop and Hollywood make-up artist (no I didn’t make that up). Rick made an excellent point of what you should say to 911 operators after a defensive gun use. He recommends telling the operator “Someone’s been shot. I need an ambulance and the police at XXXX. I’m a concealed handgun owner. I was in fear for my life.” The important point here . . .

Asking for the ambulance. That way a prosecutor or lawyer (in a civil suit) can’t say that you were callous or cold-blooded towards the perp, who you just aerated in your defense. Your first thought was: get him (or them) medical attention! I would add that asking for medical attention for yourself is an excellent way to put off police interrogation while waiting for the inevitable adrenalin dump – which plays merry hell with your mind and body- to wear off. Remember: provide the cops with any information which may help retain witnesses and/or capture escaping criminals. And nothing more – I’ll make a full statement when I calm down – until you speak to your lawyer.

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  1. Cops usually get 48 hours and a union rep before they answer for a shooting. DON’T TALK YOUR WAY INTO JAIL! Take an ambulance ride!

    • Another legal myth perpetrated by the internet is this idea that saying the magic words will get you to the hospital instead of jail. We arrest people all the time who pretend to need an ambulance. It just means you’ll be handcuffed to a bed for awhile before going back to booking after a diagnosis of ‘nothingwronginitis’ (at least that’s what the ER docs tell us).

      • It’s better to be handcuffed to a hospital bed with witnesses than to be handcuffed back in the cop shop and beaten to a pulp. Which, of course, never happens.

      • A while to compose yourself is what it’s about. If you’re a nice person I’ll help you out. If you’re a turd you’re on your own.
        I’m extremely pro-LEO. Not enough to ruin justice, but the abuse I’ve seen LEO’s take bringing people into the ER is outrageous. If I were a cop I’d shoot half the people they brought us. In the words of John Wayne, “some people just need shootin.”

        • I think you have the makings of an ideal cop. You just have to step up your marksmanship a bit so that you can shoot unarmed people in the back.

        • Somehow, this quote: “If I were a cop I’d shoot half the people they brought us.” makes me think you have a strangely warped sense of what cops do and should do. It certainly doesn’t inspire me to your point of view.

        • In the interest of complete accuracy and attributing quotes to the actual origin:

          “Some men just need killin’.” — James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok

        • Shooting someone is justified if you are in danger of being killed or maimed. You can’t shoot someone just because he is a raging a-hole. As appealing as it may seem at the time, it just isn’t worth the inconvenience, expense, and jeopardy to your liberty.

  2. Robert F

    ” I would add that asking for medical attention for yourself is an excellent way to put off police interrogation while waiting for the inevitable adrenalin dump – which plays merry hell with your mind and body- to wear off.”

    Stop with this unless you really need it.

    Your mind wont go to mush. If you think it will, you need more training under stress to get over it.

    This is very simple to say. “Officer, I will give a further statement to detectives with my attorney present. May I call him now.”

    You do have your affirmative defense attorney’s card in your wallet, yes? If not, you might wish to find one through joining armed citizens defense network. They have a list of affirmative defense attorneys in all 50 states.

    Moreover, note who is on their board. Tueller, Ayoob.

    If your shooting is valid, Ayoob can act as expert witnesses as well. You want this.

    Lastly, Robert F I strongly suggest you take Mas Ayoobs MAG 20 class. Best money you’ll ever spend. I promise as a grad myself.

  3. If you’re not alone in the house, or you’re amped up from the encounter, it is always a good idea to get a second (and third) set of eyes on you and the other people in the house for injuries. I’ve seen people amp’ed up in a fight (with knives) that didn’t know they were cut until 15+ minutes after the fight was over. Adrenaline is powerful stuff. Makes you ignore levels of injury you would not think possible.

    If the DA or cops interpret your call for EMS as caring for the attacker, hey, that doesn’t hurt either. But your first concern should be to get some medically trained people into the situation to look people over, regardless of what the cops will think of it.

    • As a Paramedic for 33 years, I’ve worked my share of shootings. Let me make a couple points:

      1. Don’t call me for BS. Someone might die for lack of an available ambulance while you’re abusing the system. That being said…

      2. People often do not know they have been shot, or how many holes they have in them. One patient caught a ride to the Sheriff’s office to report being shot after he wrapped his bloody arm in a towel. Had no idea that the bullet had penetrated the arm and gone into his chest. Another, a hunter, reported being shot in the abdomen but had no idea there were pellets stringing down his hip and thigh, one penetrating the thigh, through his scrotum, and into the other thigh.

      I’ve found a good rule of thumb to be, to ask how many shots were fired or heard, then look for a corresponding number of holes. In reality, if you’ve been shot, look shocky, or think you’ve been shot, you’re going to get stripped naked with your clothes cut off with minimal privacy, and have many strange hands running all over your body. Oddly, many bullet wounds do not bleed externally, so we must look for telltale entrance wounds that look like black bruises.

  4. I want every one to know as a professional first responder, do not say anything you would not say to Law enforcement to any EMS personnel. They can write anything in their EMS report, RN chart, or doctors note. This has never not published in most publications, that I know of (Gun rags). Plus, gun rags always list legal armed citizens in the last of their priorities. It is usually listed as Leo’s, Miltiary, then finally citizens. I take issue with that!!! It is the citizen, the armed citizen that should listed first as the priory in most firearm oriented magazines and media. If it was not for the citizen, no Constitution would exist. TTAG readers please please free to write all the Rags and tell them we come first period. Long time lurker few time contributor. Thank you.

    • I apologize for my grammar or spelling mistakes. I just proofread, and then hit submit, but then I find something else wrong. But I can’t seem to go back and edit. I hope you feel the content is worth sharing.

      • It probably happens to most of us once in a while. If you log out of the program, and back in, it may help when you get back to your comment, works for me, and god knows I edit alot!

    • Came to say this too. Some folks seem to think they can spill their guts to medics. We are trained to document thoroughly. Our forms can be subpoenaed. That said, do not withhold information needed to treat you, but some info is not needed. If asked to supply info that you are concerned with sharing, ask about its medical relevance and then make an informed decision on what info to supply.

      • This needs to be realized by the public. I’m just a EMT volunteer firefighter, paid jack-all, but thanks to lawyers and legal liabilities, we document everything. And I mean everything.

        How many straps are holding the patient to the cot? Were they all buckled? Are there two rails on the cot? Were they both raised? What were the road conditions? Was it raining while you were driving the bus? What was the temperature? Was it daylight or dark? Did you have on lights, siren(s) or neither? Was there a dog at the house? How did the dog respond to us?

        And on and on and on and on and on and on. For every medical run we go on, we probably spend about 40% of our total time writing up run reports and patient contact sheets.

        People who haven’t been around this level of liability think that this level of documentation is absurd, but if you don’t write it down, it’s fodder for a lawyer in a cross-examination. People in a DGU should know a priori that EMT’s/Paramedics will document everything. Everything you said, everything someone else said, everything the EMT/Medics observed, etc. It’s their ass on the line in court if they don’t.

  5. “Someone’s been shot.”
    Even as an amateur who once served on jury duty, I think that would sound a whole lot better than “I just shot the fvker” when they play the 911 tape at trial.

    • well , If he’s no longer a threat , I would try to get him help or to help him myself If I could . It’s just the right thing to do.

      • First, I would keep my gun on him until I was sure he would not again become a threat to me or my family. If I am alone, that might take a half-hour, before I am ready to use one hand to make a 911 call. If someone else in my family is there to do it, it could be quicker. But getting my attacker medical care is WAY down my list. I drew and fired to defend myself, not to afford my attacker expensive medical care.

        • Another one that everyone seems to miss: SECURE THE ATTACKER’S WEAPON. I suggest you do this by standing on it, and remaining there until the police arrive.

          When they get there, tell them “There’s your attacker, his gun is under my foot.”

          You don’t secure the weapon, you take an unacceptable chance.

  6. I’m pushing 68 years old and already have one heart attack on record (it was a minor one, but it’s still on record). I want the ambulance for ME, stress-induced chest pains and all.

  7. Ask for an ambulance. You may be hurt and not even know it. You may be having a coronary and not even know it. You may be confused and not even know it. And you need to take some time whether you know it or not.

      • I had a friend who fell and broke his ankle. His doctor asked if he knew what happened. My friend said, “I must have tripped.” The doctor said, “You didn’t trip. You had a heart attack. And it wasn’t your first.”

        My friend had not one, but two coronaries, and didn’t recognize either one. And I’m pretty sure he wasn’t fighting a bad guy when he had either of them.

  8. Keep in mind that ambulance rides are expensive and your insurance may not cover it.

    Thirty years ago, ambulances were a public service like fire or police response. Not anymore. Even when operated by a fire department, it’s charged for. Fees can be hundreds to thousands of dollars and distance doesn’t matter much. Because only about half of rides are actually paid for (no insurance, unknown patient bails, insurance company denies coverage, etc.), ambulance companies jack up the rates and hit hard those patients who can/do pay. That could be you!

    There will also be jostling between your auto and health insurance companies, too, over who pays, if your vehicle was at all involved. In the meantime, the bills are coming to YOU and any nonpayments are going against your credit. Ultimately, if you have to pay, you CAN negotiate the final bill. Still, that’s all after the fact and many future headaches in the future.

    Two last tips:

    1. “Revenue recovery”, i.e., paying for an ambulance, is based on “loaded service”, meaning someone was actually transported. No ride = no bill. Billing goes by who rides, not who called. You CAN be treated at the scene, and as long as you don’t get in and take a ride, and you’re completely free of expenses.

    2. Ambulance crews know all of this and they WILL pressure you to take that ride. They’re basically salesmen atcthat point, since most work for a private company. They’re preying on your ignorance and vulnerable emotional state to charge you through the nose! This all applies to any calls, not just defensive gun uses.

    Take the free on-scene treatment, but reject the ambulance ride, and take other transportation to medical facilities, if needed and your condition allows.

    • Our local ambulance company has an insurance plan that runs about $70 per year. It’s good protection for the price of a few boxes of 9mm.

      • That could be a good deal, if there’s only one ambulance company in your area and you’re assured of being transported by them. Otherwise it could be a benefit you double pay for.

        There’s still the additional issue of where they take you, though. They may take you to the closest available facility, or to the one they have a deal with. Either way, it may or may not be one that medical insurance has a deal with. It could be out of network and cost you much more than if you chose private transport to an in-network facility.

    • The truth is in the details. I work for a large hospital based ambulance service but I am contracted out to a rural EMS system for 911. The County bills for services through our billing service, but the volunteer rescue squad I work out of still relies on community donations to fill out their budget that is not 100% funded by the County.

      There are some EMS agencies that bill even when there is no transport.

      There may be ‘salesmen’ in EMS but in the vast majority of cases, if we recommend transport, it’s because either we really feel you need to be evaluated by a Physician, or to avoid the risk of a lawsuit (thanks lawyers). It doesn’t hurt my feelings if you don’t want to go to the ED. I can go back to the station and relax. But if you’re insistent on flying solo, my spiel goes like this: “OK. you may be suffering from XXX and you may suffer YYY complications. But it is your right to refuse transport. I just need you to sign this form that says we checked you out and recommended/offered to take you to the hospital, you can change your mind at any time, and if you die it’s not our fault.”

    • This. My wife was having chest pains at the local immediate care. Doc recommended ambulance ride with support team “just in case” it was serious. $900 for a 150 yard ride across the parking lot.

  9. Uh…….I’m in shock….I aint signing yer stupid liability-release-form. Not as a favor…..and DAMN sure not as a “requirement”.

  10. Ha-ha! Sart calling the police right before it will start to seek you. Initially is the best possible way out and decision from all points of view including judicial.

  11. I had never thought about specifically asking for an ambulance. I have always been an advocate of administering first aid, provided it is safe to do so. By safe I mean that no other armed or threatening persons are present who could do you or your loved ones harm.

    Requesting medical attention is a good idea, especially for those of us who are maturing. The shot of adrenaline can cause a heart attack or stroke.

    Even healthy individuals can experience a sudden death syndrome after a high stress event. One study I read several years ago indicated that 10% of individuals involved in a major emergency, will go home and die several hours later even though they were not injured in the event itself. That is why after an incident we contacted all of our res-ponders managers and executives at about 4 hours after emergency operations were completed. This study alone indicates that one should get medical attention and not be subjected to high stress situations (interigations) after an event

  12. Something I do not see here…

    I ‘Fly The Flag.’

    I know many of the local LEOs. Either through local events or just stopping and talking to them.

    The fire department is 2 blocks away…and I’ve met many of them as well.

    My property is well kept…..well lighted and appropriate no trespassing signs posted.

    I know my neighbors….be known in your community.

    You may not be able to respond or even to manipulate your phone! It is important that someone outside of your home to be able to identify you and your loved ones by sight.

    BTW, my daughter called 911…the call did not go through…she was murdered shortly afterwards.

  13. Alan Rose you are right someone may die just ask Sandra Bland who hung herself in jail, that is BS. Dyspeptic Gunsmith you stated that everything is document about straps being used, road conditions and all that stuff, does this mean that the man that died in the back of the ambulance was murdered from negligence? I wonder if those reports made it to the DA? WHY is it self defense when a cop kills but “involuntary manslaughter” or some other BS charge when a non cop does the shooting. I will end the double standards.

  14. When I went through the CC class the first portion, the legal part, was taught be a lawyer. We were each given a card for our wallet that has a script on it, and a place to put a lawyers name. The first part of the script is as has been identified here, for when you call 911. Then there is the 2nd part for when the police arrive, which basically is to hand them the card which stipulates you want to exercise your right to speak with an attorney before making any statement. Yeah, it means you are going to be laying out some cash right away. But facts are you will probably be doing that anyway, so you might as well get things straight from the beginning before the possibility of self incrimination becomes an issue. Whether you were in the right or not folks, the fact that you just shot someone is setting you up. And like others have already said, that adrenaline pumping, perhaps a little emotional shock and/or remorse, sometimes people say things that comes back on them.

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