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ballistics vests for EMS providers?

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Redcell, our companies must have obtained the vests from the same place. You described ours perfectly. I can't even find out what threat level they are because you can't get to the actual vest.

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No, our are like these: http://hsarmor.com/images/ems.jpg

I found this during my search...if they want outside vests, these seem pretty professional:


I would add the words: MEDICAL or AMBULANCE or PARAMEDIC on the front and back, though...But really, I'd prefer ones worn under the shirt.

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Here's another pic of the ones we have:


And a different pic of one that would look good for us:


(It matches our uniforms...yes, I know black's not good for EMS, but since that's what we wear, it would be more concealed and still on the outside.

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While I'm happy that my company cares enough to supply us with body armor i wish some research had been done before hand. No one wears these vests because you can not function in them.

I'd be willing to bet you that they did do research before hand. They researched among themselves, their supervisors, and a few of the field personnel who are lucky enough to be part of the "cool kids" in crowd at your service. And the overwhelming response they got was the same you get from people here when you bring it up; "I'm not wearing that thing. It's too hot. Besides, I don't need it unless it's dispatched as a shooting anyhow. Just get me something I can throw on over my uniform when I need to."

Their "research" came from people who know nothing about body armour. They've never worn it. They haven't the slightest clue whether it is hot, or bulky, or uncomfortable, or how it rides or feels. And they don't posess the intelligence or common sense to think the issue through without just spouting off the first thing that pops into their head from their vast year of experience in EMS.

Your agency wasn't attempting to protect you. Your agency was attempting to cover their arses. They don't care whether you wear it or not. Instead of evidence based research, they did democratic research. Majority rules, and you lose. But, when you die, your employer will be able to stand proud and say, "It wasn't our fault! We bought him a vest!"

Your agency is administrated by idiots. Those vests are worse than useless, because as they will tell you themselves, any scene that raises the hair on your neck to the levels of throwing that big vest on, you shouldn't be entering in the first place. No agency will ever tell you to enter that kind of scene. And, if you do, they'll fire you for that kind of poor judgement. I would. Consequently, you will never, ever in your career be wearing a vest when you really need it.

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When the FDNY issued us our vests, they had us go to a limited list of equipment stores catering to the NYPD to measure us for the vests, and turn in the results to the actual vest vender. It at least seemed to be done in a professional manner. My union was on the committee that selected the vests, but my rep, who actually sat on the committee, told me the department was the ones who insisted on the over the uniform style carrier, not the "blend in with the uniform in an apparently non-threatening way" the union was after.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Wear the vest until it is habit, until it no longer chafes you or bothers you, and until putting it on is unconscious thought like putting on socks. I'm with Dust; the scenes that make you think of wearing the vest are not the ones you should worry about. A vest in the truck does you no good whatsoever.

Don't buy into the "comfort" BS of vests. A level IIa vest is not any more comfortable than a level II or IIIa. Go with the threat protection for threats faced in your area. If you go armed, then have something that covers at least the weapon that you carry.

Stab protection may not be necessary. For corrections officers, defending against an ice pick with 80 lbs of force is a real concern. Many stab vests intended for COs have no protection from bullets. For most of us, your standard ballistic vest will supply adequate protection from knives. No, it's not rated, but yes, it will provide some protection.

To size a concealable vest properly:

It should cover from the manubrium of the sternum to just above the belt line. Side coverage may vary based on your comfort level. I would highly recommend full side coverage.

When donning, take a deep breath in and hold it, and affix the velcro straps so they are not slack but not stretched.

Care and feeding of a soft ballistic vest:

Wear a moisture-wicking shirt under it such as UnderArmour or CoolMax.

Always allow to dry flat on a rack after each time you wear it, whether you clean it or not.

Remove panels from carrier

Wash carrier separately, by hand or in machine.

Wipe panels with a damp cloth and allow to dry flat on a rack. If necessary, wipe with cloth dampened with a very mild soap solution, then with a clean damp cloth.

No bleach, deodorants, chemical cleaners or sterilizers.

Protect from extremes of heat. This includes in the trunk of your car.

Keep out of sunlight.

Never ever fold or crease a vest panel, particularly laminate vests (Spectra, GoldFlex)

Do not soak in water.

Inspect for damage and wear frequently. Things to watch out for:

Delamination or peeling at the edges


Frayed carrier, worn elastic straps

A vest, when properly cared for, will last many years beyond it's "expiration date", particularly if woven Kevlar and not laminate.


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Something to consider...of course a ballistic vest can save your life but they also add an intense amount of trapped body heat so if you are a "hot" person expect to be 20 degrees warmer. (bear extra notice smelly/sweaty people) If you don't get it properly fitted it will ride up and choke you when you sit down or pinch your armpits. Puncture/stab resistant vests commonly used by correctional officers are hotter/thicker/less mobile than traditional vests.

Again, it's a decision. If you want protection it's an excellent option but like everything else it has it's ups and downs. Lastly vests have "lifespans" so make sure to check the date printed on them when purchasing used ones. That being said, even though they may be expired many tests have shown them to still be effective.

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