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Why EMS providers need a vest with stab and slash protection

Body armor has become an important piece of protective gear for everyday wear in many agencies, and most medics are more likely to encounter knives than bullets


Sponsored by Safe Life Defense

Sam Boyer-Groff, a tactical medic, SWAT team member and EMS educator, says he suspects that almost anybody who’s worked as an EMT or a paramedic for more than a year has been assaulted, and he believes medics should wear body armor all the time to protect them from potentially dangerous situations.

Boyer-Groff hosts the PrepMedic channel on YouTube, where he posts weekly videos with tactical medicine tips and tricks, as well as reviews of response gear from go-bag supplies to body armor. Since he launched it almost two years ago, the channel has grown to more than 178,000 subscribers from all over the world.

Sam Boyer-Groff, host of the PrepMedic channel on YouTube, appreciates the bullet, strike and slash protection provided by the Tactical Enhanced Multi-Threat Vest from Safe Life Defense, and he says the fit allows him to move and tend to patients more easily than other vests. (image/PrepMedic via YouTube)
Sam Boyer-Groff, host of the PrepMedic channel on YouTube, appreciates the bullet, strike and slash protection provided by the Tactical Enhanced Multi-Threat Vest from Safe Life Defense, and he says the fit allows him to move and tend to patients more easily than other vests. (image/PrepMedic via YouTube)

PrepMedic quickly caught the eye of Nick Groat, founder and CEO of Safe Life Defense, a body armor supplier. Groat reached out to Boyer-Groff not long after the channel’s launch and offered to send him one of the company’s soft armor vests for an honest online review.

Boyer-Groff wore the Tactical Enhanced Multi-Threat Vest, which provides bullet, strike and slash protection, for a couple of weeks on the job. He was impressed by the level of protection it offered, as well as the features that allow for customization, such as several rows of MOLLE webbing to attach pouches, the option to add side armor panels and the pockets on the front and back for adding rifle plates as needed. He now wears the Safe Life Defense vest regularly.

“I’ve worn a lot of different types of armor throughout my career, but once I received the armor from Safe Life Defense, I transitioned to that for under uniform,” he said.

In addition to its functional features, the vest is also designed with comfort in mind, with adjustable shoulder straps for comfort and a mesh liner for moisture wicking.

“What I really like about this vest is its ergonomics. It’s made to be worn for a long period of time,” Boyer-Groff says in his video review before demonstrating how the fit allows him to move and tend to patients more easily than in other vests he’s worn.

INTERCHANGEABLE AND CUSTOMIZABLE

Another thing Boyer-Groff particularly likes about the Safe Life Defense armor is that it’s interchangeable. All their panels fit in all their carriers, whether concealed or external, so you can swap out the ballistic panels between an exterior carrier and covert carrier as needed instead of having to buy multiple vests for different situations.

“Armor is expensive because a lot of technology goes into it, so being able to just buy the carrier is a lot cheaper than having to buy an entirely different vest,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of different external and internal carriers, depending on what role you fill or what your department will allow.”

Boyer-Groff also appreciates the detachable front and back patches that can identify the wearer as EMS, and the option to get the same vest in high-visibility neon yellow. In some areas, it may be important to differentiate EMS providers from law enforcement in the field, so be sure to give careful consideration to color and labeling when choosing body armor.

PROTECTION AGAINST MULTIPLE THREATS

Although interchangeability and customization are key benefits, says Boyer-Groff, most important is the fact that the Safe Life Defense armor provides stab and slash protection. Most ballistic vests don’t do all three.

Choosing the right armor depends on what you’re likely to need protection from as you go about your job, and most medics looking to purchase body armor are not coming up against rifle threats but are more likely to encounter handguns or knives. EMS providers, says Boyer-Groff, are most likely to encounter stab or slash threats.

“While ballistic threats are very real, I think it’s actually more likely that an EMT or a paramedic gets stabbed or has a knife pulled on them,” he said. “In my experience, a knife or something like that has been a more prevalent item on patients when we bring them into the back of the ambulance, so I really like the fact that the Safe Life Defense vest protects against that special threat and then also offers you the ballistic protection.”

For everyday EMS use, Boyer-Groff recommends a soft armor vest with the ability to add rifle plates if needed, like the Safe Life Defense vest, because a soft vest offers more protective coverage area for the body than a plate carrier. (Check out the Safe Life Defense body armor buyer’s guide for more information on the different kinds of body armor and protection levels.)

Body armor is an important piece of protective gear, he says, but one that is often overlooked in EMS. We’ve all seen too many reports of paramedics and EMTs being attacked on a call, and body armor can provide an important tool to help prevent life-threatening injuries.

“It’s like any other piece of PPE, whether that’s your gloves, helmet, traffic vest – you really want to have your people prepared,” said Boyer-Groff. “In my experience, violent situations are not always something you can see coming.”

For more information, visit Safe Life Defense.

NEXT: EMS body armor: What providers need to know

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