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New law allows Florida medics assigned to SWAT to carry guns for self-defense

Medical personnel tend to a victim outside of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

Paramedics assigned to police tactical teams in Florida may soon be carrying sidearms for self-defense, thanks to a new bill passed in the state legislature.

Currently, many paramedics assigned to SWAT teams are forbidden from carrying defensive weapons and are often placed at risk if they have to peel away from the team in order to save lives.

Starting July 1st, however the new law what allow paramedics to be armed with a sidearm.

The law is currently limited to those medics assigned to tactical teams.

“The new law that is going into effect gives legal authority for paramedics to have a firearm on them when engaging in tactical operations with the team,” said Jorge Campos with the Gainesville Police Department.

According to News Channel 12, Gainesville Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Hillside has yet to determine whether or not he’s going to allow his SWAT Medics to carry on duty.

“We don’t want paramedics to get confused about what their mission is and we also don’t want the law enforcement officers to get confused also and think one of the paramedics would pick up a tactical angle when that is not their primary mission,” Hillside said.

For liability mitigation purposes, Chief Hillside -if he gives the green light to arm his staff- would work with the Gainesville Police Department to ensure that the armed medics would be trained to the same standards as police officers.

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