Emergency responders need bulletproof vests, safety director says

After two firefighters were held at gunpoint last week, Lancaster, Ohio, safety director says it’s time to provide the city’s medics with ballistic vests

LANCASTER, Ohio — Lancaster safety director says it’s time to provide emergency responders with bulletproof vests.

Brian Kuhn told 10TV responders need protection "because they’re risking their lives to protect the lives of strangers."

Last week two Cleveland firefighters responding to a brush fire were held hostage at gunpoint for hours.

Even though common policies require police to stabilize a crime scene before medics go in, situations can still escalate.

Medics from Whitehall wear a red ballistic vest marked "MEDIC" in large, white letters. Paramedic Dan Horn says it’s just part of the uniform.

"It’s so quick to put on it doesn’t delay things at all," he said. "It’s nice to have. It gives you that secure feeling."

Whitehall Assistant Fire Chief Christopher Menapace says anything can happen in a volatile situation when emotions are running high.

"Should the scene deteriorate in a second, which sometimes they do, they have the protection they need," Menapace said.

Ballistic vests’ prices range from $700 to $1,500 each. Kuhn said Lancaster needs $15,000 to equip its medics with bulletproof vests. He said he doesn’t know how the city could not afford to protect its emergency responders.

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