The San Antonio Fire Department issued an alert to all firefighters in the city to remain vigilant in response to the shooting of a firefighter paramedic in Dallas.
Around 11:30 a.m. Monday, a gunman opened fire on a first-responder who was helping a shooting victim. The Dallas firefighter paramedic was critically injured. SAFD Fire Chief Charles Hood recalled the conversation he had with Dallas Fire Chief David Coatney.
"He called me probably 30 minutes after. You could hear it in his voice, that something was going on even before I knew what was happening," Hood said.
Chief Hood added that, despite the chaos in Dallas, Chief Coatney was looking out for the well-being of San Antonio firefighters.
"Chief Coatney asked me to remind our first responders to be safe," Hood noted. "It's scary because this could have been here instead of in Dallas. And these things go on throughout the country."
Chief Hood said that SAFD has safety measures in place to protect firefighters. In 2007, the department adopted the Violent Incident Response Program, a plan to prevent firefighters from becoming targets. One policy is to make sure firefighters wait for police to secure an area.
"The thing is though, sometimes you go on a call where it can be a simple medical call and we don't have the police department there with us. So that's where we have to really have our head on a swivel," Hood explained. "We're thinking about saving somebody, but we also have to think about watching our backs while we're doing our job."
Texas lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow firefighters and emergency medical personnel to carry a handgun while on duty. Chief Hood said that he does not support House Bill 435.
“If you think about wearing a gun, 24 hours, as many runs as we do, the exposures that we have, there’s a chance that gun may go off. There’s a chance that gun will be lost. I don’t want to be crawling around a hallway in a fire with a firearm on me. There’s no place to secure a firearm at a fire station or on a fire truck,” Hood said. "Certain situations, I think I would support it in a rural setting, but not in an urban environment.”
SAFD has ballistic gear but Chief Hood said that it will only be used in a mass shooting situation.