For the last 2-days, Gulf Coast Medical Center has been trying to help emergency first-responders protect themselves against the people they are trying to help.
Emergency medical service personnel call assault the "dirty secret" of their profession.
"They are the ones tasked with taking the drunks, drugged, domestic abused, the people hopped up on methamphetamines,” said Matthew Lopez, the class instructor. “When they're trying to take care of those people in the back of an ambulance a punch, a kick, or a grab is a reality that unfortunately everyone in this room encounters."
That is why Gulf Coast Medical Center offered these free assault response training classes. Wednesday was geared to firefighters and Thursday was for paramedics and EMTs.
"We've made it our mission at our hospital to empower today's EMTs and firefighters. We want them to know how to escape, but also know how to document it and how to verbally stop these situations.”
Lopez and Tom Burdeshaw, a local EMT, say it is a greater problem than many people might have imagined. "Through the years I’ve seen situations where a class like this would have been helpful," said Burdeshaw.
In fact, every one of the class members Thursday said they had been in situations where the class would have been helpful.
"It means a lot to be able to get out of that situation, to be able to know we will be able to go home at night to our families and not have to worry about what's going to happen to us when we're there," said Burdeshaw.
Lopez added that the classes were not about hurting the attacker but about having the paramedic and EMT escape safely.