Tactical medics approved to carry handguns
Green, Ohio, tactical paramedics are now permitted to carry handguns when called out to assist the sheriff's SWAT following a change in state law
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By George W. Davis, For the Beacon Journal
Akron Beacon Journal
GREEN, Ohio — Green tactical paramedics are now permitted to carry handguns when called out to assist the sheriff's SWAT following a change in state law and the urging of Summit County Sheriff Steve Barry.
The approval came from City Council this week after Barry, Green Fire Chief Jeff Funai and tactical paramedics Capt. Kris Gent answered several questions from council members.
Law Director Lisa Dean said she had reviewed the proposal and was satisfied with it.
The eight Green tactical paramedics won unanimous approval to be armed after residents were assured that the weapons wouldn't be present during non-SWAT incidents at homes or businesses.
Barry said the matter has been discussed many times by himself, Funai, Gent and SWAT team commander and members since 2017.
"The tactical paramedics' role will not change; it is an extra layer of safety security for them and for patients they are taking care of," Barry said.
"I will tell you that for years they [Green's tactical paramedics] have carried Tasers as SWAT medics, for those of you who did not know, and there has been not one single use of a Taser that they had for their safety.
"We are not looking for anything drastic to change. We are hoping that it never does have to be used, obviously."
Barry said the change gives medics an extra layer of protection for active shooter situations. They will receive state-mandated instruction through the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy Council.
Barry, who is not seeking re-election this year, said medics build a trust with fellow first responders from the SWAT team, sheriff's office and other departments.
"They know each others' moves by now," he said, adding "I want to make a point mainly that their role stays the same. This is strictly for SWAT medic calls."
Gent, who explained his team has been an integrated part of the sheriff's SWAT team for 20 years, said there often are three two-man tactical paramedic teams on a SWAT request for service.
If a patient is being treated at the scene by one paramedic, the second is protecting the scene whether the patient is an innocent bystander, a SWAT member or a suspect.
George W. Davis can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2020 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)