Fire captain: Assaults on calls becoming more frequent

Tucson Fire Captain Patrick Bunker said the increase in assaults on firefighters while they are battling a blaze or treating a patient are a cause for concern


By FireRescue1 Staff

TUCSON, Ariz. — A fire captain recalled a recent assault he suffered while on a call, and said the increase in these incidents are a cause for concern.

Tucson News Now reported that a Tucson Fire Department Captain Patrick Bunker was treating an unconscious patient when a man with a machete threatened the firefighters.

"The suspect turns around and gets into a defensive position and he puts his hand behind his back and that time we're like, 'hey man' and before we could say anything else he pulls out a machete and puts it in his hand and says, 'I'll 'F' your life up.’” Bunker said.

Bunker said the man, who was later identified as Jason Coleman, walked away shouting obscenities before running at full speed towards him.

"When he came full bore at us, it's like, it's on. It was extremely scary because when we took him down, we didn't know where the machete was. We had no idea where the machete was,”Bunker said.

Bunker’s colleagues were forced to leave their patient and help him after the assault. He was punched twice, but is OK.

"Our concentration has to be on the patient,"Bunker said. "You want us 100 percent concentrated on the patient, not at what's going on in the background and stuff."

The incident was the third assault on a firefighter that resulted in an arrest since last October, and Bunker said the increase in assaults is a cause for concern.

"It's starting to get really super dangerous out here,” he said. “We've had so many different incidents where our crews are being threatened. Where we're having to physically take people down. Where we're having to protect ourselves, when we normally haven't had to do that in the past."

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