Joshua Godfrey and John Spriggs Sr. are lucky to be alive today after the paramedics were faced with a hail of gunfire following their response to a call in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, last week.
It was only because Spriggs was carrying a gun that the two were able to come away with their lives, albeit with serious injuries.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that Godfrey, 35, and Spriggs, 41, were dispatched to a call at 4:40 a.m. on Dec. 17 regarding an injured woman, according to a news release from Pine Bluff police.
While the two were treating the 20-year-old female in the back of their ambulance for knee pain, her boyfriend — identified as 22-year-old Kevin Curl Jr. — approached the two men “aggressively.”
When Spriggs told Curl to back up, he refused and pushed Spriggs — challenging the paramedic by asking him what he was going to do about it. After Spriggs punched Curl, the Democrat-Gazette reported Curl “then pulled out a gun and shot both paramedics approximately three times each in the chest, pelvic and abdomen areas.”
Spriggs, however, had a gun of his own and was able to return fire, killing Curl, police said, adding that they found Curl on the kitchen floor with at least one chest wound.
Police found Godfrey in the back of the ambulance bleeding, while Spriggs was lying alongside the ambulance.
A report the next day by the Democrat-Gazette said Curl allegedly had injured his girlfriend in a domestic incident.
Godfrey and Spriggs’ boss hailed his employees for their heroism.
“As the CEO of this company, they are great employees who have served the citizens of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County with the utmost respect and care and professionalism,” said John Bishop, CEO of Emergency Ambulance Service Inc.
“It’s an absolute tragedy what happened.”
“They’re both great. Not just EMTs and paramedics but family men, fathers, and one of them is a grandfather,” he added.
“They are very dedicated to their work, and I’m proud of them for saving their life and most importantly the life of the young lady who called them to come to help her out.”
In a report published Sunday, the news outlet said Spriggs and Godfrey underwent surgery and were in stable condition, according to Bishop, who declined to give details at the request of the men’s families.
Also without being specific, Bishop implied his company had policies in place regarding paramedics such as Spriggs carrying firearms.
“We’re going to explore every option that we have,” Bishop said. “Not only in Pine Bluff but throughout our entire company.”
Bishop also said the reason police weren’t dispatched along with the paramedics was that the ambulance company was unaware it was a domestic violence call.
“What we train is to never have a situation like that unfold and to never get into a situation like that,” Bishop said.
What’s amazing is that allowing EMTs to carry firearms on duty is a controversial issue.
In Arkansas, in the wake of the Pine Bluff shooting, state lawmakers are looking to make it legally explicit that paramedics could carry firearms. (The Democrat-Gazette reported that nothing illegal happened in the Pine Bluff shooting, since there’s no law that precludes an EMT from carrying a licensed weapon on duty — but there’s also no law that affirms that right.)
However, when Virginia made it legal for EMTs to carry, many — including those within the paramedic community — were upset about it.
Here’s Brian Hupp, writing at EMS World in 2019: “Having worked most of my career in Richmond, I understand how dangerous this job can be. I have been threatened. I have had to declare a mayday. I have been assaulted. I have looked down the barrel of a gun in someone else’s hands, and I have been shot at. I have been some places that scared me to the core, where someone is screaming in your face with a knife or a gun in their hand. Not once did I think having a gun would make me safer.
“Other providers have told me their stories. Times where someone threatened them with a knife or gun, times they felt in fear of their lives. Some have said they wished they had a gun,” he continued.
“My question is, what good would a gun have done? Whether they realize it or not, those EMS providers had an aura of protection around them. An aura that said, ‘This person won’t hurt you. This person only wants to help you.’ I’m not blind to the fact that there are terrible people out there who want to hurt others regardless of their mission. But I don’t think putting a gun in the waistband of an EMS provider will help those situations. In fact, it may escalate scenarios that could have been deescalated.”
That “aura of protection” didn’t help Godfrey or Spriggs, and their situation certainly wasn’t hurt by a gun being in Spriggs’ waistband. It didn’t add to the escalation of the situation. Instead, it saved two lives in an incident in which the police should have been present but weren’t.
And that’s part of the point of the Second Amendment. When the police can’t protect you, a firearm can. Granted, the best firearm a paramedic can carry on duty is the one he or she never have to use.
The second-best, however, is one that saves their life.
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