Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Mike Myers, responding to citizen complaints, has suspended operations of an emergency medical team deployed with police at protests since the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
A member of a citizens group called Empower Portland spoke last week before the Portland City Council, telling commissioners the group objects to firefighters dressing in police riot gear, which it says sends a message that the Fire Bureau was not impartial at the event. Empower Portland spokesman Standard Schaefer also displayed a photograph of an embedded EMT who wore a Blue Lives Matter patch on his uniform shirt.
EMTs were embedded with riot officers after Empower Portland representatives said EMTs took too long to reach the scene of an Oct. 12 clash between protesters and police at City Hall.
Since the embedded EMT team was launched, 10 people have been treated at about a half dozen protests, fire officials said, for these reasons: laceration, tear gas, pepper spray, loss of consciousness, diabetic reaction, chest pain and asthma.
During the suspension of the Fire Bureau's team, Myers said he wants to explore finding protective gear that is distinct from a riot officer's and has clear "medic" or "EMT" labels on the uniform, Oregon Live reports.