House Committee approves Wheeler bill to strengthen role of paramedics during emergency response operations

The Illinois House Police & Fire Committee unanimously approved legislation on Thursday that would authorize local agencies to train and certify tactical paramedics to provide medical assistance to civilians, injured officers and others during dangerous operations. The legislation, House Bill 3031, is sponsored by State Representative and Assistant House Minority Leader Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego). Tactical paramedics would be licensed to use a firearm and assigned to assist SWAT teams.

“Our paramedics perform essential life-saving services every day, but in some dangerous situations, they themselves are vulnerable and at great personal risk of harm,” Rep. Wheeler said. “I would like to thank Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain and the representatives of our local police and fire unions for their invaluable contributions to initiate and advance this legislation. Together we can give our paramedics the additional flexibility and training they need to stay safe while doing their job.”

Credit for the origin of House Bill 3031 is attributed to Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain, who brought the idea to Rep. Wheeler’s attention. “From a law enforcement perspective, paramedics are an essential part of our team when responding to calls where one or more people have been injured,” Hain said. “Having trained tactical paramedics would help protect the safety of all parties at the scene of dangerous operations, including the paramedics themselves in the event of an active shooter situation. I would like to thank Rep. Wheeler and all the members of the Police & Fire Committee who supported this legislation.”

Rob Carpenter, President of Oswego Firefighters Local # 4773 also expressed support for the legislation. “When our personnel assisted with the response to the shooting at the Henry Pratt Company in 2019, it was a tragic reminder of how all our local paramedics are in harm’s way while providing life-saving medical care to victims during dangerous situations,” Carpenter said. “Under current law, paramedics are sitting ducks in an active shooter situation. House Bill 3031 will give our paramedics the ability to receive tactical and firearms training in order to better equip them to perform their essential duties and stay protected during incidents when an armed suspect remains at large on the scene.”

House Bill 3031 now advances to the full House of Representatives for final consideration.

Rep. Wheeler serves the 50th District, which includes portions of Aurora, North Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, Campton Hills, Elburn, Montgomery, Oswego, Plano, St. Charles, Sugar Grove and Yorkville.