AUSTIN – The Austin Fire Department is currently discussing the possibility of purchasing bullet proof or bullet resistant vests for first responders.
The discussion was prompted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a recent article regarding the nation’s most recent mass casualties such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and the Boston Marathon bombings.
FEMA experts are suggesting that all firefighters across the United States be armed with bullet proof vests in hopes of saving more lives when responding to mass shootings and other critical incidents.
“There's always an inherent amount of risk going into those scenes, you know, and when you're not protected with the best safety equipment out there, that risk kind of goes up,” said Randy Denzer with the Austin Firefighters Association.
“The Austin Firefighters Association is all for changing those protocols just like the Obama administration is now asking us to do. We're all for it. The one thing we're also for though is we want to make sure that if there's any safety equipment that can help us do our job better, help us get to the patients sooner than that's all worth looking into very well,” said Denzer.
Paramedics with Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services have had bullet proof vests for nearly 10 years.
“I last wore mine approximately two to three months ago. It was for a call in which a person had been reportedly stabbed. At the end of the day, our goal is to go home to our families and keep serving our community,” said Commander Jonathan Mudge with Austin/Travis County EMS.
An AFD. spokesperson said the department is looking for funding to purchase some of the vests, but no clear time table was available.