Metro Ambulance Service responds to about 50 calls a day. Roughly 20% of those calls are emergencies where someone is hurt and needs to be transported to the hospital. Clayton Cobler with Metro says that they take precautions and use the wait and see approach when they know they are headed into a possibly dangerous situation.
"We will stand by in the area until law enforcement clears the scene for us. We also try not to page out our first responders on calls like this, and they will stand by with us also until the scene is secure."
Back in September 2010, a Jackson man was shot and an ambulance was in the area before the police had secured the scene. It was the ambulance company's policy not to enter an active shooting scene so they waited for the go ahead from Police. That delay in patient care drew criticism from Jackson City Councilman Kenneth Stokes, but Cobler says that policy is in effect nationwide, and it's there to protect the EMTs.
"Our dispatch contacts Central Dispatch and has them let us know as soon as the scene is safe, and this is for attempted suicides, shootings, stabbings, domestic violence, things like that."
According to state law, it is illegal to carry a weapon on board an ambulance unless done so by a certified law enforcement officer, so paramedics are mostly unarmed, and while Cobler wouldn't comment as to if they carry other defense items or not, he doesn't see the current policy going anywhere soon because sometimes the calls aren't what they seem.
"You never know. Just because what they tell you the call is you're going on, it might not be there at all when you get there."