Incident where patient stole ambulance highlights defense training for EMS

A Sunday night call for a pickup turned dangerous for two Detroit medics, when the patient-turned-suspect became combative and stole the ambulance.

The man is now in custody and the medics have only minor injuries. But it's the actions deployed by the medics that is being highlighted in the bizarre incident.

"My hands are right here, right here I can protect my face and myself," said Lieutenant Jeff Forbes of the Detroit EMS. "The whole thing is about trying to get away."

While not top of the job description, first responders can encounter scenarios where their patients become violent. That's where training like this comes in handy.

The first lessons are in verbal judo. If that doesn't work, EMS workers are trained to do Defense Training for Escaping, Mitigating and Surviving, also known as DT for EMS.

All these tactics were deployed last Sunday night.

"You have to be aware of your patient because at anytime they could attack you," said Chief Joseph Barney, the assistant superintendent for Detroit EMS.

At 11 p.m., the two Detroit medics were responding to an overdose, Barney said. Minutes into the trip to the hospital, the patient became combative. 

"This individual attacked both medics and these guys used their training and you know they had to fight their way out of their ambulance," he said.

The medics got free, before the patient jumped into the drivers seat of the ambulance and drove off. That's when GPS was used to track down the vehicle, where it was found on Detroit's westside. One of the windows was broken, however that was the extent of any lasting damage.

"The ambulance can be replaced but lives can't," said Barney.