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Kevlar vests for fire medics?

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  • Kevlar vests for fire medics?

    Ok a call I went on a few days ago has really gotten me thinking. Came in as a broken ankle but once we got there the victim went insane and tried to attack us. As he was trying to go in his bedroom he was saying he was going to shoot us so we took him down and restrained him till police got there. Once cops got there they found a loaded shotgun behind his door. The guy apparently had a long history of mental illness. After that I'm thinking about buying a kevlar vest. Does any firefighter or medic out there wear one? What are your opnions on this? I mean I'm assuming when I go to a fire I won't even notice I'm wearing it cause of my bunker gear. I'm not decided yet I just really want everyone's opinion

  • #2
    I don't know anyone who wears one for we are in a pretty safe surburban area but i could see where you may need one. I would probably take it off if you respond to a fire call, we have enough gear as it is! haha.

    Stay safe,
    Nick.

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    • #3
      There were a few incidents before I got on that prompted a contract award where our medics were supposed to get vests. Still waiting for the first delivery several years later.

      As for fire calls, I even pull off my uniform shirt so I'm just in a tshirt, even in dead of winter. Can't imagine getting anything done with a vest on too. There was the incident in (insert midwest city here - St. Louis? KC? I can't recall) where crazy guy set a fire then shot at FFs responding, killed one. Even in Philly (AKA Killadelphia), getting shot at is not high on my worries list as I'm responding.

      I doubt that even a vest would help vs. shotgun. I don't know your situation, I wasn't there, but from how you describe it, I'd have retreated and called the cops. I'm not armed, and I'm not paid to fight people, they are.
      Opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Philadelphia Fire Department and/or IAFF Local 22.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by mrpita View Post
        I doubt that even a vest would help vs. shotgun. I don't know your situation, I wasn't there, but from how you describe it, I'd have retreated and called the cops. I'm not armed, and I'm not paid to fight people, they are.
        I'm not sure a vest would have helped a near point blank shotgun blast either in that specific situation. However I do think that the crew taking his *** down was the best course of action that probably saved their lives. The threat was clearly highly credible and imminent considering he was merely a few feet from the loaded gun he said he was going to get. He would have had that thing racked and the first shot off before they got to the door if chose to run for it.

        I don't particularly look forward to engaging patients in hand-to-hand combat, but sometimes that is what's necessary to protect you, your crew, the patient himself, and the public and is the better (or ONLY) option to retreating and waiting. I've never had to do it with a "criminal" persay. The few times I've had to tackle a patient, it was always a mental case. And in those instances, not doing so would have absolutely resulted in physical harm to myself, my crew, or other people in the room. I've retreated before too, because the situation warranted retreat rather than an offensive/defensive action.
        Last edited by nmfire; 05-12-2011, 11:35 AM.
        Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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        • #5
          Oh I agree, NM, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. My favorite is when they're on "wet".

          Like I said, I wasn't there, he was. He made the decision he felt he had to make. It was perhaps arrogant of me to say I'd do things different. I won't really know until I'm in that scenario. Even rereading his description this morning, I question if I really would have done different. I know the smart thing to do - IF ABLE - is to retreat and let po-po handle. That's my training, and I'm sure almost everyone else's. I'm just glad he's around to tell the tale.
          Opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Philadelphia Fire Department and/or IAFF Local 22.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mrpita View Post
            There were a few incidents before I got on that prompted a contract award where our medics were supposed to get vests. Still waiting for the first delivery several years later.

            As for fire calls, I even pull off my uniform shirt so I'm just in a tshirt, even in dead of winter. Can't imagine getting anything done with a vest on too. There was the incident in (insert midwest city here - St. Louis? KC? I can't recall) where crazy guy set a fire then shot at FFs responding, killed one. Even in Philly (AKA Killadelphia), getting shot at is not high on my worries list as I'm responding.

            I doubt that even a vest would help vs. shotgun. I don't know your situation, I wasn't there, but from how you describe it, I'd have retreated and called the cops. I'm not armed, and I'm not paid to fight people, they are.
            Memphis had a Firefighter set fire to his home and kill two Firefighters and a deputy.
            http://www.wmctv.com/story/4935725/f...edirected=true

            OP- Are you new to EMS?
            FF/Paramedic

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            • #7
              Sadly my agency is not allowed to wear vests. I can think of several calls where I would have felt safer having one. They do make carriers that look like a Class A shirt that you just put on over your shirt. That would be the best if you have to take it off during a shift.

              Depending on what level the vest is, it might do a little protection from a shotgun blast. Granted it won't do a thing to help you from knives or other sharp objects.
              NREMT-P\ Reserve Volunteer Firefighter\Reserve Police Officer
              IACOJ Attack

              Experts built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark.

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              • #8
                Sadly the powers that be won't approve of us wearing a vest. I know where to find them for sale but I certainly don't have the funds to buy one.

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                • #9
                  You guys have to be kidding me... policies against wearing a vest? WTF? They have policies against wearing BSI and bunker gear too? Why in the world would any agency have a policy against wearing protective equipment?!?

                  Yes, I wear a vest on 'chancy' EMS calls. I've had two patients attempt to stab me and I've been on three 'active shooter' calls, including one that came in as a structure fire, Chief arrived onscene and found a guy shot from head to toe but no fire. Wifey had flipped and shot the guy with a .22 loaded with 'rat shot' while he slept on the couch. She was upstairs loading a .30-30 and the Chief snuck up the stairs and tackled her as she was sliding shells into the magazine to finish the job. That's up here in Podunk northwest Pennsylvania. We also have two juvenile 'rehabilitation' facilities in my district. We carry pepper spray in our Squad because we've had no end of troubles at this place. A riot once a month during the summer, 30 "fall patient" calls a year that are found to be falls due to getting hit in the head with a rock, trying to climb into the ambulance to finish the job, one came up over my daughter's back as she was trying to hold C-spine on a patient. Our trucks have spent more time in reverse at this place than in any other gear.

                  Understand that a normal bullet-resistant vest is not bullet-PROOF. They offer very little resistance to rifle fire. They are meant to stop penetration from low-velocity handgun rounds. They would be effective against shotgun fire to some degree. They are also NOT stab-proof. A knife will go right through them like through normal clothing. There are stab-resistant vests but they are a specialized vest.

                  A source of getting vests would be to talk to your local police agencies. They get their vests replaced through grant monies from the National Institute of Justice. Vests have a preferred service life of 5 years, so normally if you hit up a few departments one will have a vest purchase in the works. Fire/EMS departments are not eligible for funding for new vests, but the police agencies trade in their old vests. Since trade-in value is $25-75 for a new $450 vest, you might be able to either have a friendly Police Chief donate a few vests, or you could pay the trade-in value for them. If the Police Chief is reluctant to help you, the company that is selling the new vests will probably work something out with you. I have to say that they may not sell to you as an individual, but will probably be a little more open to an agency purchase.

                  Absolutely, definitely DO NOT wear one while on structure fire duties. They are hot and heavy. Watch a police officer at a summertime accident, he'll constantly be pulling on his vest and even blowing down the front of his shirt.

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                  • #10
                    I'm interested to hear exactly how those policies read . . .
                    Fire Service Interview questions - The blog that has REAL interview questions for firefighters, Engineers, Lieutenants, and Captains !

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                    • #11
                      We have External Vest available on the Engine for the crew to use when we are dispatched to shootings, stabbings or going on medical runs in the not so great areas. This is the only time the crew will put them on. Doesn’t do much for the call you had to deal with, because we would not have put the vest on for that. I am not sure where you run, but in our area the PD only respond to about 20% of the medical calls.

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                      • #12
                        In Chicago I know quite a few medics who both own them and wear them. Some more than others. One guy who wears his near constantly was in the military. I have been on so many shootings I lost track years ago. 200? 300? And have found guns on pt's multiple times. Usually they were unconscious and had gotten shot. I never wore one, but if I went back to the ambulance in the ghetto where I was working, I would probably spring for one. I know you can even get them on eBay. I say, get one and throw it in the rig for those iffy calls.

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