Okla. EMS agency equipped with ballistic vests, helmets

A program called Everyday Heroes delivered 61 vests to Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service

By Wendy Burton
Muskogee Phoenix

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Muskogee paramedic Jordan Stevens pulled a bullet-proof vest over his head and declared it surprisingly light for a vest that can take a hit from a NATO .308 rifle round.

The vest, along with 60 others, are new to Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service, thanks to donations from area foundations and businesses — and a program called Everyday Heroes from Armor Advantage out of Purcell, owned and operated by Michael and Mona Blackmore.

"What he does is make body armor that goes overseas, and with proceeds from that he provides body armor and ballistics helmets to fire departments, emergency services for a very affordable price," said Stevens, who also is Muskogee County EMS' logistics coordinator. "Usually, vests run about $800, and we got these for $165 each. Our helmets cost $290 apiece."

Michael Blackmore delivered 61 vests to MCEMS' central station—enough to put three vests on each ambulance. Ballistic helmets will arrive in a few weeks, Blackmore said.

"Thank you guys, for all your hard work," Blackmore said to the gathered paramedics and administrators. "How the community jumped on board of this... that's great."

The community raised $23,030 for the project, said Muskogee County EMS Compliance Officer Rebecca Williamson. "We sent out donation letters, and our three platinum sponsors are Muskogee Medical Foundation, EASTAR Health (now Saint Francis Hospital) and Charlie's Chicken."

Williamson said emergency responders' roles have changed over the years since the Columbine High School shooting, and the old days of staging away from an emergency until police gave the all-clear before rushing in to tend to patients are mostly over and done with—meaning first responders can find themselves in dangerous situations while fighting to save lives.

"Now, the police will clear a section of a scene, let us in that section, clear another section, let us in. If we didn't do that, our people who were injured would be laying there dying, so law enforcement and emergency personnel saw a need to change things," Williamson said. "They are bringing us into the 'warm zone' more and more over the last several years, and it does seem to be saving lives."

Stevens said the vests and the helmets to come are a welcome asset for first responders such as himself.

"We don't want to go into a situation where we could be targeted and not have protection," Stevens said.

Stevens said the vests and helmets will be stored on each ambulance, and at the beginning of each shift part of the routine will be for the medics on duty to resize the vests to fit them in case they are needed during their shift.

Copyright 2017 Muskogee Phoenix

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