(PHOTO AND STORY: KHQ.COM)
Firefighters risk their lives on a daily basis to save others: Walking through burning buildings, performing water rescues, and fighting brush fires. But, what was at first a normal medical call last week turned into a very dangerous situation for Spokane firefighters.
"The person went from a normal status like you and I talking here to extremely violent," said Spokane Fire Chief Schaeffer.
The person who firefighters went to go help was suffering from a medical episode. That person went back inside their home and grabbed a gun. Schaeffer says that man then pointed the weapon at firefighters, which forced them to retreat and call the police for help
“Between that time of the police department arriving the person was in a vehicle and driving away," Schaeffer said.
Chief Schaeffer says situations like this are a new reality for first responders, adding that the fire department is responding to more mental health calls than ever before -- at least 20 per day.
While some of the calls might be less serious than others, firefighters respond the same way in force because the calls have the capability of becoming something very serious.
"The situation for us has really changed. First responders across the country that have been targeted by people, they've been shot while entering homes during an EMS call. We've had domestic terrorists that have targeted, selected and attacked public safety officials so it really has changed the landscape."
Chief Schaeffer tells KHQ that they are looking into different safety measures for when firefighters are responding to calls.