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April 26, 2016

What level of ballistics protection do EMS providers need?

You've heard and seen it all over the news lately — fire and EMS personnel, worried for their safety, are adding body armor in response to day-to-day threats of violent patient encounters.

EMS1 columnist Robert Avsec recently wrote an article explaining how to buy body armor for EMS personnel. Avsec explains the need for ballistic vests as an all-hazard PPE reflecting responders' changing role.

After posing the question about ballistics protection on Facebook, our readers reacted in one of two ways: they were either "all in" on purchasing and wearing body armor or they expressed their concern for EMS providers even having to think about such a purchase. That totally for or totally against response seems to align with not only first responders but also the general public.

Does your EMS agency or department provide body armor? If not, are you planning on purchasing? Weigh in to the conversation in the comment section below.

"I have worked in a system where I wore a vest. Currently, I work in a system where I don't feel the need. My suggestion is to gather accurate data on what the threats are in your system. Dig deep to find root causes and work hard to correct the dangers to the providers in your area. If I was a betting man (I'm not), I would bet that being in the back of an ambulance without a seat belt is far more hazardous than not wearing a vest. Be safe, be smart and pay attention." — David Gammell

"The way gun laws are passing, I hope they give us body armor protection soon." — Christopher Kelley

"None would be the preference for me. But if needed, I want under clothing body armor. One that is a little concealable. I want to be approachable and not look like a cop." — Reuben De La O

"Concealed handguns." — Paul Edward Morris

"I'm all for it but consider this: I work for a correctional agency, we are required to wear armor at any post where we are carrying a firearm. If EMS is being issued body armor, might a means of active defense in case, I don't know, you are actually shot at, be appropriate? I don't work EMS anymore, but I wish I had been allowed to stick a Glock 42 in my pocket, in a good secure holster and with an extra mag in my other pocket." — Andrew Anderson

"I have a IIIA concealable vest. I wear it under my uniform shirt to avoid looking like a police officer. That way, if I do get attacked, they don't know that I have a vest and shoot me in the head." — Andrew Glass

"If in an RTF situation, the highest protection possible." — Dewayne Gibson

"As much as police do." — Debbie Schlacter

"The moment EMS needs to have body armor is the moment they need to have a firearm." — Steven Bellew Garcia