ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. — Thirty bulletproof vests will soon be placed on Rockingham County EMS ambulances to protect EMTs and paramedics from the unexpected when out in the field.
Officials have been working on getting the vests for a year and used $10,500 from a state grant to pay for them.
“They go into shootings,” said Rockingham County EMS Director Johnny Bowles. “They go into stabbings. They go into assault situations. They go into the same dangers that law enforcement go in.”
A scary situation assistant training officer, Justin Stewart has been in several times throughout his career.
“I was working on a chest pain call, was working on a patient, was moving the patient over when we actually heard the gunshot go off,” Stewart said.
Guilford County EMS workers have been wearing bulletproof vests for more than 30 years.
“The problem is not knowing you’re going to need it then getting into a situation and needing it,” said Guilford County EMS Manager Daren Nunn.
Nunn says vests are provided to nearly all 225 workers, whether they work in the field or not.
“Everyone from the units all the way to the supervisors all the way to the administrative staff,” Nunn said.
EMTs for Alamance County EMS don’t use bulletproof vests.
Randpolph County and Forsyth County only provide vests for tactical medics, which are EMTs who work with police on SWAT or hostage situations.
They are vests Stewart says also provide peace of mind.
“This is going to help me somewhat,” he said. “I’m just not out here in the open with no protection.”