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December 22, 2014

S.C. medics test ballistic vests for active-shooter incidents

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. — Charleston County paramedics have been testing out ballistic vests to potentially send EMS into the warm zone sooner during an active-shooter situation.

“We would be teamed up with officers that are going into an active-shooter place where we can get to people who are hemorrhaging out so we can stop the hemorrhage before they bleed to death,” said EMS County Chief Don Lundy told WCIV

Medics have narrowed the choices down to five vests, and hope to make a decision on which brand to purchase by the end of the months. Funding for the vests still needs county approval.

“For the past two months we have been testing them out for its usability, comfort, and ability to get on and quickly and all those things you need,” Lundy said. “Once we choose one, there is still a lot of training involved. It's not just about the equipment; it's about medics working as a team with law enforcement to save lives faster. You have to be trained to be prepared for that. It takes more than just wearing a vest.”

He was also clear that just because EMS may be equipped with ballistic vests doesn’t mean crew members would be the first line of defense.

“It doesn't make us bulletproof; we will not put ourselves in harm's way where we cannot defend ourselves,” he said. “This is to make sure we have the safety equipment we need so we can take care of the patient and get everybody out of harm's way.”