Running towards danger and crime tape instead of away, those in public safety and emergency services have several goals in mind these days. In addition to responding to the emergency they also emphasize now the importance of protecting their own, even arriving armed.
Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood is no stranger to the effects of violence, but he remembers vividly the first time he feared for his own life while giving the news no one wants to hear.
“I broke the news to them and chaos broke out in the house , things were getting broken, thrown off of tables, pounding on the walls and I was at that moment scared to be honest.” said Harwood
He now carries a gun 24/7, a request from his staff the moment he took office. They all took the 40 hour open carry training course. He said after a violent crime with no suspect a weapon offers his team a layer of protection.
“You can’t put a quantification on grief or how someones going to interpret grief or how they’re going to react or what they’re going to do so we have to stay prepared for that at all times just for that reason you can’t predict human behavior.” said Harwood
Also one of the first to a scene of a violent incident, emergency medical personnel.
“One of the first things you learn at EMT school is to ascertain that a scene is safe before you enter, safety is step one.” said Josh Bradshaw with Advanced Medical Transport
He says in their field a number of new safety measures have been put in place to help their daily duties such as bright uniforms, devices to monitor driving, and automated lifts.
“Working with the manufacturers of ambulances we developed this back compartment that has things we need stored safely back here so we don’t have to be in the lane of traffic.” said Bradshaw
Both said being proactive is the best way to keep their crew safe.
“I don’t want to have something happen to one of my staff members and we react later to it. I want them to be prepared, I want them and their desire was to have that extra layer of caution and security.” said Harwood
Peoria is not alone in carrying, surrounding communities such as Tazewell and Champagne do so as well.