Now What? Securing Your Firearm During a Medical Emergency

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If you’re a member of the USCCA, you know the importance of following the rules for concealed carry. We’re a pretty law-abiding bunch. We want to know how to get out of trouble of all kinds, but — more importantly — we need to know how to avoid trouble in the first place. We’re not perfect, but knowledge is an important aspect of avoiding trouble.

SNIP, SNIP: There’s a chance your clothing will be cut off by EMS personnel — all the more reason to invest in a secure holster.

Say it’s Saturday and you have to run to the hardware store to pick up some parts to finish a project. You have your EDC firearm with you and are looking at your shopping list as you enter the store. What you don’t see is the slippery spot in the entryway from when a 4-year-old dropped her drink only moments ago. In slow motion, both feet fly up in the air in the start of a half-gainer onto the concrete floor.

The sound of the impact is impressive. You can’t help but notice the startled looks of bystanders as they see your leg jutting out at an odd angle. An X-ray isn’t needed to diagnose that you either dislocated a joint or broke something — legs simply don’t bend in that direction. Either way, your injury is now the top priority for the day.

The store manager is there apologizing repeatedly and has called an ambulance for you. The home project is on hold. You can’t walk. You can’t drive. There’s nothing to do but wait for EMS. Then you remember: You have your concealed carry firearm on your hip.

Now What?

Having worked as a paramedic for 22 years, I can tell you it’s pretty simple. There are a couple of easy rules you should follow to help it all go smoothly. First, EMS is not going to take you into the hospital still carrying your firearm. Most hospitals don’t allow firearms inside — other than those of law enforcement officers (LEOs) or their own security. As a paramedic, I appreciated if my patient told me ahead of time that he or she had a concealed carry firearm. That made it a pretty easy fix. No need to add more problems to your day.

In most communities, police will often respond to a medical or trauma-related 911 call with EMS. If this is the case, the paramedic will ask the LEO to simply say hello and secure a CC firearm for the patient. Let the police secure it; you are a law-abiding citizen and have nothing to fear. They will most assuredly ask your name and date of birth and check your background, and you should ask for a receipt. It is also really helpful for you later if you know which police department has your sidearm.

Negligent discharges most commonly occur when moving a firearm into or out of the holster, so drawing the firearm from the holster in the back of a bouncing ambulance and handing it over to another person could be a very bad choice.

Citizens with lawful weapons are not a problem for law enforcement. As an example, the local police department of a small town asks that long-haul truckers contact them to secure their firearms before entering a nearby military base, which is federal property and not a place where private citizens may carry firearms. Contacting local police is a smart, legal and safe way to comply with federal law. When truckers leave the military base, they simply drive back to the police station to obtain their guns.

It is prudent to call the police department beforehand to confirm they can provide this service as well as find out exactly how and when to drop off and pick up. Do not just show up in the lobby with your firearm. There is likely a “No Guns” sticker on the door, meaning you just broke the law.

Words of Warning

What happens if you’re in a car crash with your firearm? The same basic rules apply if you need to go to the hospital. Don’t leave the firearm in the car assuming it won’t be found when towed away. Taking the firearm out and trying to give it to another person on the scene can also go wildly out of control. Any bystanders are of course going to report to police that you gave a firearm to an uninjured party who quickly stuffed it in a pocket. If that friend does not have a carry permit, things will not end well with the police for either of you.

What happens if you get into an accident in another state? Hopefully, for starters, you have a permit with reciprocity in that location. Sometimes, however, the databases don’t communicate well, and the responding officer may not know you are allowed to carry simply by running your name. This still shouldn’t be a problem, though there may be more hassle upon retrieval. If you were unable to chat on-scene, he or she will need to confirm that you are allowed to carry your gun.

One More Time

As a final example, your firearm may not be retained at the scene if you are in the ambulance before you remember that you have a firearm tucked away. Try to warn the paramedic before he or she does a head-to-toe survey to check for other injuries. Just tell the paramedic you have a legal firearm and you’d like it removed but to remain in the holster.

Negligent discharges most commonly occur when moving a firearm into or out of the holster, so drawing the firearm from the holster in the back of a bouncing ambulance and handing it over to another person could be a very bad choice. The paramedic may decide it is better to wait until everyone is at the hospital and the vehicle’s stopped and will then ask security to retrieve and retain the firearm. Normally, hospital security procedure will be to also advise the local police, who will likely check your background.

Training with your EDC firearm should include mental exercises on how you deal with a car crash or a sudden onset medical problem. Your firearm will need to be secured, and you will need to remain calm. Also, nothing prevents you from calling your local police or sheriff’s office and asking about procedures. It can only help you be more prepared for emergencies, which is the whole point of you carrying in the first place.

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