News, Patient Care

Paramedics Save Man Holding Gun to His Head

CHICAGO — When Chicago firefighter-paramedic John Funk walked into the bedroom, he thought he saw the elderly sick man sitting on the bed with a phone.

Then he looked a little closer.

The 87-year-old man had a gun pressed to his temple.

“He kept saying just get out of here, get out of here,” said Funk, who backed out of the room while telling the man to relax.

Soon Funk was joined by his commander, Lt. Gilbert Munoz, who cleared the house and stayed in the hall with Funk chatting with the man.

“There is no training,” Munoz said of the Tuesday morning incident. “You just fly by the seat of your pants.”

Munoz had been at the house, in the 9600 block of South Indiana, an hour earlier — just before 7 a.m. — to check on the man because he was unconscious but refused to go to a hospital. This time, his doctor was insisting he go, Munoz said.

“He was just a little distraught over his medical condition worsening,” Munoz said. “He had remorse and regret in his voice.”

The man also shared that he was an Army veteran and had bought the gun — which appeared to be about 30 years old — to protect his wife.

Munoz stayed just outside the room and reasoned with the man. Eventually the man walked to Munoz and handed him the gun.

“Lt. Munoz did a superb job in talking to the patient,” said Neil Sennett, a paramedic who was also at the scene. “He was talking to him, calming him down and reassuring him he was going to be OK.”

As soon as the man released the gun, Sennett — who has handled guns in the military — unloaded it. Then they took the man to the hospital — all the while telling him that everything was all right as he apologized over and over, Sennett said.

“I have walked into rooms where there have been guns on table but never an [armed] patient,” Sennett said. “I am delighted that the gentleman was OK. . . . He was just a gentleman that needs some psychiatric care and he needs his other [medical] problems taken care of.”