Be a WEAPON, not a TOOL.



We will start this post by looking over a couple of definitions.

Weapon:  something (such as a skill, idea or tool) that is used to win a contest or achieve something (1)

Tool:  a handheld device that aids in accomplishing a task or
Slang –  Often Vulgar (Penis) (2)

Reasonable:  fair and sensible (3)

While the definitions above are only portions of the complete definitions, they will assist in making the point.

* No Tool, No Tactic or No Technique is 100% effective 100% of the time.


The focus of DT4EMS’ Escaping Violent Encounters (EVE) is real-world self-defense for both  critical thinking and physical skills for those in the field of emergency medicine, regardless of their uniform. Reasoning is simple- The Emergency Department nurse deals with the exact same person, on the job,  as does the EMS Provider or the Firefighter on a medical call.

Often times people focus on a tool thinking it is what will keep them safe. Awareness of this, makes it is important to research a few tools available for self-defense. One can immediately think about all of the tools carried on the belt of a police officer. While many perceive the tools on the belt of said officer to be for self-defense, the use of them is usually to gain custody of a person suspected of committing a crime. In DT4EMS’ EVE, we train to the high standards of law enforcement when teaching the use of force, although we do not teach police style techniques.


Firearm: The tool that receives the most attention is the firearm. Readily accepted as a lethal means of Everyoneinmedicalservicesself-defense when used by police or the threat of use( by police to gain submission or control). The firearm is reserved for the most dire of situations. The situations where lethal force would be deemed reasonable. Police officers obtain not only initial training on the “how to” use their firearm (Range Qualification), but the when to use, or  when not to use it for either the threat of or actual use of lethal force. Police officers receive initial and ongoing training on “Shoot or Don’t -Shoot” scenarios to assist with critical thinking skills. The loaded firearm is useless without the pulling of a trigger. The firearm does not magically jump out of a holster and protect the officer should the need arise. The firearm must be physically drawn, aimed and an action of pulling the trigger must be done in order for the projectile to leave the firearm and strike its intended target. It is all of the training, both mental and physical, that allows the officer to be the weapon and use the tool.


Knife– While usually perceived as a “thugs tool” many police agencies not only allow the carry of the knife (fixed or folding) but actually have training and a policy for both the carry and use of a fixed or folding knife for on duty. The knife use is reserved for the same potentially lethal scenario as a firearm. Of course no police officer is going to perform a felony car stop or arrest by waving a knife, but that officer could use the knife in a grappling situation when the threat of the officer losing or actual loss of his firearm was imminent.

Impact Tool– Another tool universally recognized to be carried or used by police is an impact tool such as a baton. The impact tool such as a baton/stick can be either less lethal or lethal depending upon its use. The baton can either be fixed or collapsible. The use of a stick as a tool has been around probably as long as mankind itself. However in today’s society, the use of a stick/baton when using force in self-defense must be reasonable.  Realize a police officer is trained the use of a baton,  and that striking to the body and limbs of a person is used to gain control and take a suspect into custody.  The officer is taught any strikes to a person’s head, spine or groin are usually reserved for the potentially lethal encounter.  The stick/baton is merely a tool. A stick on the ground, a baton on the belt does not spontaneously begin whacking away at someone or something. It must have a person swinging it to become an effective tool. Again, there is training involved for when the baton would be considered reasonable in a use-of-force situation. This training affords an officer the critical thinking and actual physical skills to be the weapon and wield the tool in a reasonable manner.


Conducted Energy Tool– A recognized less lethal means of control (for police) and self-defense for the average citizen. People are most familiar with the CET known as a “Taser”.  Contrary to the widespread use of the term, not all stun-guns are actually Tasers. Many widely available stun-guns are a hand held device requiring the user to essentially reach out and touch someone for the tool to be effective. The actual Taser carried by a police officer has an effective range of up to 21 feet. Barring some strange event, like submersion in water, the Taser or the commonly available stun-gun must have a person (weapon) pull a triggering device to make the tool effective.  Proper training allows the weapon to use the tool reasonably regardless of the use of force situation.

Chemical Sprays– Tools such as Pepper Spray (OC) or Mace are commonly available and are readily accepted as a tool for control (for law enforcement) or self-defense for the average citizen. They are also recognized as a less lethal tool.  Police have used chemical sprays/foams for decades in the field and have had a proven track record with their success in taking control of a suspect. Likewise many people have had success with a chemical spray for self-defense on the street.

Empty Hand– No tool as a tool. Depending on the situation, empty hand can be less lethal (placing of handcuffs) or potentially lethal in nature, such as a choke hold. Officers train to gain physical control of a person suspected of committing a crime. Much of their training is dedicated to using empty hand skills to access the proper tool considered reasonable at that particular moment in time. Again, proper training is what affords a person the critical thinking skills of which tool to use when.

Simply having a tool at the disposal of any provider in medicine is not THE answer. It is training Preparedpeople to know how/when and when NOT to use a particular tool. It is those critical thinking skills that allow the provider to do their job, but become the weapon  and choose the proper tool, if criminally attacked.

The garbage spewing from the mouths of some on social media (people that are supposedly in emergency medicine) on what they say about how they would use force on the job really makes them sound like, well, a tool…the slang version.

Proper training allows a person to be the weapon and use a tool. Failing to properly train simply allows the tool to handle a weapon.

Be a weapon, not a tool.


SEE ALSO: Chihuahua and Rottweiler 



(1)  accessed 7-27-2014

(2) accessed 7-27-2014

(3)  accessed 7-27-2014