Ballistic helmets and body armor not just for cops any longer

Unfortunately, the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse night club earlier this month has, once again, underscored the dangers that emergency responders are forced to encounter as part of their commitment to serving our communities. These dangers are certainly not isolated to law enforcement officers as fire and emergency medical responders are also often in the line of fire.

Recognizing the dangers for their fire and medical personnel, Santa Clara County recently secured $300,000 worth of gear for such events, including ballistic helmets, armor, and trauma kits to take into hostile territory. This gear will help protect responders in the event of another tragic shooting and could also help save many additional victims’ lives if they are able to safely enter a hostile environment earlier than they would be without proper training and armor.

There is no body armor available that will keep medical personnel safe enough to enter the most dangerous environments involving active shooters. These environments, often referred to as “hot zones,” are off limits. A somewhat more secure “warm zone,” however, may be permissible to enter with proper know-how and protection. This could lead to a significant reduction in injuries and deaths if responders are able to treat victims sooner than they would otherwise be able to do so.

Whether equipped with ballistic helmets and body armor or not, fire and emergency medical personnel need to be prepared to respond to a mass casualty or active shooter event now more than ever. One way to do so is to participate in National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) course. TECC focuses on the medicine during these phases of care and provides guidelines for managing trauma in the civilian tactical or hazardous environment. While TECC has a tactical slant, it takes an all-hazards approach to providing care outside the normal operating conditions of most EMS agencies, such as responding to a mass casualty or active shooter event. Learn more at

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