EMTs Pulled from the Frontline

Portland EMTs will no longer stand with police at area protests. This move was not prompted by concerns for the EMTs’ safety but because protests felt it was unfair. Yet it was an earlier complaint by the very same protestors which put the EMTs there to start with.

In Oct. 2016 Portland Police clashed with protesters near City Hall. As would be expected there were injuries reported and those injuries caused the citizen’s group Empowered Portland to file a complaint regarding EMS response. In an attempt to ensure that those injured in future protests would receive medical treatment as soon as possible, regardless of which side of the line they stood, Portland Fire & Rescue implemented a special team of EMTs who would be embedded with riot police.

In the ensuing months, these embedded EMTs have responded to a half dozen incidents and treated approximately 10 people for a host of ailments. However, now Empowered Portland is complaining again. This time it is because they feel the EMTs are not being “impartial”. No, they are not claiming EMTs are refusing treatment to protesters. They are not even claiming police are received treatment before more seriously injured protestors. The complaint is based on two factors: EMTs are wearing “police style riot gear” and one EMT was photographed wearing a Blue Lives Matter patch.

(Credit: Dave Killian OregonLive)

Just we are on the same page. This complaint is not based on the level of medical care provided or the speed in which that care is provided- the reasons the embedded EMTs were established in the first place. No, the complaint is because the EMTs failed to share the same ideals as the protestors. In other words, the protestors are now protesting the EMTs’ right to free speech. As far as I am concerned the objection to EMTs wearing riot gear is absurd, nothing more than a smoke screen thrown up in an attempt to add some credibility to the real objection to an EMT supporting the police.

The Portland Fire Chief and City Commissioners who caved to this demand did so in the belief that they were avoiding future problems with Empowered Portland. What they have really done is set themselves up for a long list of problems they have yet to even consider. By caving to this single demand they have not only given away control of their own city they have empowered these protestors in more than just name. Before long Empowered Portland, and every other group who thinks their opinion is more important than anyone else’s, will not only increase their demands they will expect compliance.
In the end, it is the protesters themselves who are likely to suffer. Many times they are the one injured in clashes with police wearing riot gear. When this happens minor injuries are likely to become more serious because treatment was delayed. I just hope Empowered Portland remembers the saying “be careful what you wish for.”

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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