Upstate first responders react to new Fla. law on arming paramedics


SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A new Florida law taking effect July 1 will allow paramedics to carry firearms when responding to a call. While many of the risk factors are the same in the Palmetto State, first responders in South Carolina cannot carry a gun on the job.

When firefighters go out on a call, they never know exactly what they’re walking into. Many said they would appreciate the added protection of carrying a firearm.

For Fire Marshal William Smart and fellow first responders when they answer a call, their focus is to help.

“Fire scenes any scenes emergency, somewhat can appear to be out of control or chaotic. our job is obviously to get there render safety and care to those around and try to control the scene as much as possible,” Smart said.

In 2017, after the Townville Elementary School shooting, a Townville volunteer firefighter was armed and subdued the accused gunman.

A South Carolina bill that would allow first responders to carry guns passed the House Ways and Means Committee that same year. But eventually the bill stalled.

For those who serve on the front lines in our communities, the threat can be all too real.

A Spartanburg County Police report showed that just a few months ago a man pulled a gun on firefighters and EMS workers from the Reidville Fire Department.

“There’s always a discussion about firefighters protecting themselves and carrying guns, should they have them or not, i’m sure there are many many studies being done right now to see if that’s an option,” Smart said.

Right now the only recourse for first responders is to look to law enforcement for help.

States including Kansas and Ohio already have emergency responder firearm laws in place.

Similar bills have been proposed in Tennessee, Mississippi and Virginia.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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