EMS chief ponders use-of-force policies

Some say chokeholds on a combative elderly nursing home patient might be considered a bit excessive

By EMS1 Staff

LOWER SLAUGHTERHOUSE, La. — An EMS chief is La. is proposing some radical measures to combat the hazards medics face on the job, from safety to mild inconvenience.

Jealously eyeing his police counterparts in the idyllic town of Slaughterhouse, George Fongut is pushing to greatly expand the agency’s policy on employing use-of-force measures.

Cartoon Darrell Fitch/FireMedicArt.com
Cartoon Darrell Fitch/FireMedicArt.com

"This has been a long time in coming," said Chief Fongut, EMT-D. "The best defense is a good offense, and I’m sick of being the Washington Generals of the public safety community."

For years, the city's ambulance crews have been responding to high-risk and traumatic incidents, often without law enforcement, animal control, or public works personnel to assist them in accomplishing their tasks. Under Fongut’s plan, EMS personnel would be given not only greater access to equipment but the latitude to use it.

"With the additional training and equipment they received, EMS personnel can now feel more secure while at work," said Fongut. “What person doesn’t feel safer outfitted in head-to-toe body armor with flashbangs and beanbag shotgun rounds?”

While agreeing that the use of pepper spray would be helpful when subduing a violent patient, critics argued that Fongut's suggestions of using a TASER to “persuade” an intoxicated individual to consent to care or a chokehold on a combative elderly nursing home patient might be considered a bit excessive.

Chief Fongut disagreed, adding that data will be evaluated over the next several months to make sure things don't get out of hand. "A palm slap is a little price to pay for the safety of our crews, isn't it?" he asked. “And if things get a little rough, hey, we’re already going to the ER, right?”

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