First responders work around the clock to keep our communities safe, even if that means putting their lives on the line.

A new bill signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum will help bring fire and emergency responders a little extra protection.

“I think that the secret to happiness in life is loving what you do regardless of what it is,” Rollete Ambulance Service Squad Leader, Diane Arstein said.

Arstein has been an EMT for the last several years working the majority of her career with the Rolette Ambulance Service.

“Some people get a huge adrenaline rush and love when things go badly. I am not that kind of EMS person. I don’t actually love all the blood — I love being a helper,” she said.

Arstein says the Rolette Ambulance Service gets about 130 calls a year, each call having its own weight of severity — but sometimes in the midst of saving the day, things can get a little out of hand.

“That is a possibility, but we are very, very fortunate in this community. We actually have in the town of Rolette, we have a policeman — and we’re actually getting an additional police person, and so we are fortunate in that when our pager goes off the likelihood of a law enforcement person being available is incredibly high,” Arstein said.

That’s not the case for all first responders across the state, but that’s where House Bill 1463 comes into play.

The bill allows first responders to carry a concealed weapon or have what’s considered to be a dangerous weapon while out on a call, to protect themselves.

“I actually like the bill, not because I think everybody should be armed, but I do think that every community is a little bit different,” Arstein said. “Not everyone has two law enforcement officials smack dab in their community.”

While some first responders that KX News spoke to in the area, like Glenburn Fire Chief Mike Overton, say though the need for deadly force is highly unlikely, he says the bill serves its purpose of that added protection.

“I definitely support. I don’t believe that anyone should have to give up their right to defend themselves. Not that I ever expect anything to happen, but you never know where you’re going to go or who you’re going to run into,” Overton said.

In order to lawfully carry while on duty, the bill states:

  • The individual has written permission from the governing body or owner of the fire department or ambulance service
  • Possess a Class 1 concealed weapons license
  • Complete a weapons training course
  • The fire department or ambulance crew must provide to BCI who is authorized to carry

Arstein says she doesn’t believe she’ll ever actually equip herself with a weapon, but knowing she can is a start.

“We’re just going to take it one step at a time,” she said.