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New Orleans EMS invests in body-worn cameras after assaults on medics increase

The number of assaults on EMS personnel was more than double in 2021 and BWCs are being seen as a means to dissuade attacks

By Bill Carey

NEW ORLEANS — In response to assaults on medical responders both nationwide and locally, New Orleans Emergency Medical Services has started equipping some personnel with body-worn cameras to ensure their safety.

In 2020, there were 19 reported assaults on the department in New Orleans. This figure rose sharply to 40 in 2021, more than doubling the previous year’s total, WVUE reported.

Since 2022, the department has invested $46,000 in 45 body-worn cameras for captains, lieutenants, field training officers and employees who choose to wear one voluntarily. The department aims to eventually equip all field personnel with cameras to help deter physical attacks.

“We wanted some type of bridge or safety barrier for our crews, or as a recourse to prosecute the assailants who cause harm to our medics on scene,” Lieutenant Noah Feldman said.

“If there is a patient that says, ‘Look, I just don’t feel comfortable with a camera,’ then there is an option to turn it off,” Chief Bill Salmeron said. “We want to also respect the public’s choice to not be on camera, especially if they’re experiencing some sort of private health emergency.”

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The cameras can hold an entire shift’s worth of footage in their internal memory. When the cameras are placed on a charger, the footage automatically uploads to a secure server.

Employees can access and view the footage for report purposes, but they cannot delete any clips.