National EMS Advisory Council is putting forward recommendations that all EMS workers be required to wear bulletproof vests on duty. Instances of attacks on EMTs and Paramedics are on the rise nation wide. As such the NEMSAC is taking measures to ensure the safety of all EMS workers.The NEMSAC is not a regulatory agency so they do not have the official power to set a standard. Their recommendations are considered by regulatory agencies, such as OSHA to be model policy. Meaning that OSHA will view this recommendation as a workplace requirement.
One OSHA inspector we talked to said this.
“If an EMT or Paramedic gets hurt and they do not have on the recommended work place PPE, I will issue a fine to the work place. I don’t care if the EMS provider is full time, part time, volunteer or some other combination everyone will follow this rule.”
Most general bulletproof vest start at about $400 with prices going upwards of $1,000 depending on features. Manufactures only guarantee their vests for five years.
One EMS administrator told us this.
“It will cost me over $20,000 to outfit all my people with vests. Not to mention every time we hire someone new we will be buying a new vest for that person. Not to mention every five years I will be buying vests. If I did not know any better I would think that someone on the council has stock in a vest company.”
EMTs and Paramedics seem to have mixed emotions on the matter. While many feel it is a good idea. Many others don’t think it is right that NEMSAC should order everyone to wear a vest.
“I am an EMT on a volunteer fire department. This is a safe community and nothing ever happens here. Most of the local cops doing wear a vest. They [the cops] complain that vests are too hot, too heavy, and how they start to hurt your back/shoulders over time. Why should I be forced to put something on that will hurt me, if the cops who need them more than I do are not forced to wear them?”
Members of the NEMSAC were not available for comment at the time of press.