NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – New Orleans EMS plans to spend more money this year to start training EMS workers in self-defense. They say EMTs are having to deal with more physical attacks than ever before, making it harder than ever to attract badly needed technicians
More often than not, EMS arrives at shooting scenes, before the police.
For the past year, EMS workers have been armed with blood packs, which they take with them on all shooting scenes to save lives. They have administered nearly 100 transfusions so far.
“It definitely has had an impact on reducing the murder rate,” said Lt. Noah Feldman, with New Orleans EMS.
But often times in New Orleans, it’s the lifesaver who needs medical assistance.
“I was attacked in the back of the unit going to the hospital and have my nose broken,” said Feldman.
“I was outside my sprint vehicle and a person ran up to me amazed me and then tried to attack me as I ran into the car for safety,” said Dr. Meg Marino, EMS Director.
In the fight to keep EMS workers safe, the department is now having to train some workers in self-defense.
“We have a de-escalation and self-defense training course which we are putting together for our staff,” said Marino.
In its $19 million budget request, EMS asks for more money for body cameras, just like the police.
“If something were to happen, and it does happen, we can hold ourselves accountable and those who do the attack we can hold them accountable for that,” said Feldman.
The cameras will also be used to show other EMS departments, how field transfusions save lives.
Like the NOPD, EMS is dealing with a staffing shortage. Last year, four out of every 10 workers moved on to something else.
New Orleans EMS needs 160 workers, but they currently have just 124, with many leaving for more lucrative, and often safer jobs in the private sector.
“There is a nursing shortage and the EMTs are almost trained to the level where they can do the job,” said EMS chief Bill Salmeron.
When it comes to boosting NOPD manpower, EMS workers are fully supportive, since they often arrive at dangerous crime scenes before the police.
And the New Orleans city council seems to be getting a message.
“There’s no doubt that we want to make sure that police have what they need and support the public and EMS,” said City Councilman Joe Giarusso.
Though EMS is adding body cams and self-defense training, this year’s budget request is actually $1.2 million less than last year, due to the manpower shortage. However, city leaders say if they need the money for additional hiring, they will be able to access it.
See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click Here to report it. Please include the headline.
Copyright 2022 WVUE. All rights reserved.