Background: Emergency medical services (EMS) providers are at high risk for occupational violence, and some tactical EMS providers carry weapons.
Methods: Anonymous surveys were administered to tactical and nontactical prehospital providers at 180 prehospital agencies in northeast Ohio between September 2018 and March 2019. Demographics were collected, and survey questions asked about workplace violence and comfort level with tactical EMS carrying weapons.
Results: Of 432 respondents, 404 EMS providers (94%) reported a history of verbal or physical assault on scene, and 395 (91%) reported working in a setting with a direct active threat at least rarely. Of those reporting a history of assault on scene, 46.5% reported that it occurred at least sometimes. Higher rates of assault on scene were associated with being younger, white, or an emergency medical technician-paramedic, working in an urban environment, having more frequent direct active threats, and having more comfort with tactical EMS carrying firearms (p ≤ .03). Most respondents (306; 71%) reported that they were prepared to defend themselves from someone who originally called for help. Most (303; 70%) reported a comfort level of 8 or higher (from 1, not comfortable to 10, completely comfortable) with tactical EMS providers carrying weapons. Comfort with tactical EMS providers carrying weapons was associated with being white, not having a bachelor's degree, and feeling prepared to defend oneself from a patient (p ≤ .02).
Conclusion: EMS providers in the survey report high rates of verbal and physical violence while on scene and are comfortable with tactical EMS providers carrying weapons.