RENO, Nev. (KOLO) Firefighters are typically the first to help in emergency situations, but sometimes the calls they respond to can turn violent.
"I've had people punch me, kick me," Ben Brown, a Reno Firefighter, says.
Now, the Reno Fire Department is training all firefighters in self defense and situational awareness.
"In the rare instances where we actually have to put our hands on people and have to be in a stuggle of some sort, a way to safely control that person safely for both them and us and bring the situation to a good resolution," Brown says.
The department says in the last month they've had at least 18 calls turn violent.
"That's kind of where this started, but ultimately, what little problems we've had in the past if we never have any that's better but one time having someone get hurt is too many," Captain Jake Lightfoot says.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2016 3,500 first responders went to the emergency room because of violent calls. Brown says those numbers are likely under-reported.
"Almost every person that's worked here has had something like that happen but we just brush it off and keep on working," he says.
Often times, firefighters say people are too intoxicated or under the influence of drugs to know they're being violent.
"They don't mean to do it but yet it still poses a danger to them and us," Brown says.
Firefighters say it's a necessary training precaution to keep everyone safe.
"This hands on, one-on-one training for my firemen is very crucial but then for me I'm always just watching to make sure I got the whole scene, taking in the whole big picture," Captain G.P. Johnson says.
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