DALLAS - The recent shooting that left Dallas paramedic William An severely injured has raised questions about whether first responders should be carrying firearms or not.
Kevin Grant, the Emergency Services Administrator for Cooke County, has long been a proponent of paramedics and EMT's conceal carrying a firearm.
"I think that is an individual choice they need to be able to make," Grant said.
Cooke County is spread out to 874 square miles. He says there are some challenges to being in a rural part of Texas as opposed to the urban areas.
"For us, law enforcement could be easily 20 to 30 min out," he said.
He says sometimes in non-violent cases his paramedics and EMTs are the first to respond to a scene. Grant says on every emergency call there is a certain level of unknown.
"It brings concern that my staff would be in danger, said Grant.
This is why he and Ken Stormer believes first responders should be armed. Stormer is a former officer and now licensed instructor with Red River West.
"They basically take the license to carry course for their off duty hours," said Stormer.
He's taught paramedics, officers, civilians for years. He thinks in a world where public servants are so often targets it is time.
"We try to develop in them the mindset that firearms are a last resort," said Stormer.
Both Stormer and Grant are excited about a bill that just passed the Senate. Senate Bill 1408 was proposed by Senator Don Huffines who says this is about self defense.
"They work very hard...I think it's common sense to make sure that they don't become a victim," said Senator Huffines with the 16th District.
The bill would allow first responders to carry...even in restricted areas. It would require a license to carry and 20 extra hours of training.
"There shoudl be enough practice, enough rounds, down range to be proficient and stay proficient," said Stormer.
All three believe proper training is a must but Grant says, if allowed, it should not be mandatory for every first responder.
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