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Durham EMS Workers Study Gangs In Order To Save Lives, Avoid Danger

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DURHAM — In some parts of Durham, a color can mean the difference between life and death. An injured gang member puts Emergency Medical Service workers in a dangerous situation. If rescuers are not careful, they could end up in the crossfire.

For the last 10 years, paramedics in Durham have gone through gang awareness training. With the increase in gang activity, it is more important now than ever.

With almost every call, lives are on the line and minutes matter.

"The reality is that gangs and the activities gangs are involved in are very much a part of what we do," says Kevin Wilson of Durham EMS. "We do not want our people hurt."

As part of their training, Durham County paramedics are paying close attention to gangs.

They learn the signs, the symbols, and the lingo. Graffiti is the first sign they may be entering gang territory.

"It's tense at first," says paramedic Maurice Gundrum, "because there is a possibitliy of being injured.

A gang member's most sacred possession, his colors, is the one thing that paramedics keep the closest eye on.

"We train our people so that they don't go in and compromise themselves or the organization by cutting gang colors or defacing them," says Wilson.

The paramedics say that the training has helped them out, but that the bottom line is always saving lives.