NBC 5 Investigates: Injured Paramedic Not Wearing Body Armor

Department has nearly two dozen vests but only given to Dallas paramedics in limited situations.

This afternoon, the Dallas fire chief said the wounded paramedic was not wearing body armor and he didn’t have a vest with him in his vehicle.

Last summer, NBC 5 Investigates reported the Dallas Fire Department was stepping up plans to give more medics access to bulletproof vests after that deadly attack on Dallas police where a gunman killed five officers and injured nine others. The chaotic scene raised more concern about the safety of paramedics trying to help the wounded.

But today, those vests are only given to Dallas paramedics in limited situations.

The shooting ignited more questions about whether first responders like paramedics should wear body armor so they can quickly enter a shooting scene.

Since then, Dallas Fire Rescue has given medics access to about two dozen body armor kits for active shooter situations in coordination with police.

But at Monday’s press conference, the fire chief said those vests were not on board the rescue unit in Monday’s shooting.

“And we don't carry the body armor on the actual rescue units. They are contained in the other response vehicles that come to the scenes,” said Chief David Coatney.

Some cities now require EMT’s to wear body armor every day.

In Cleveland, Ohio, the fire department ordered all EMT’s to wear bulletproof vests to work after an active shooter fired at medics.

It’s a issue many first responders have been grappling with.

“Every city, every community, every agency is going to make a decision that they feel is in the best interest of their community,” said MedStar Public Affairs Director Matt Zavadsky.

In Fort Worth, MedStar now allows medics to wear body armor if they want and the company helps employees purchase vests through payroll deductions.

In September, two MedStar paramedics ended up in the line of fire as they rescued two wounded Fort Worth officers.

But about half of MedStar’s force has opted not to wear vests because of the heat and other concerns.

Across the country, some fire officials worry body arm might cause medics to take unnecessary risks going into danger instead of waiting for police to secure the scene.

At Monday’s press conference, Chief Coatney said his department will continue looking at their body armor policy.

Statewide, there’s another debate about arming first responders.

Several bills currently in the state legislature would allow firefighters and EMTs to carry guns.

Some say they need guns, especially in rural areas where police can be far away.

But other fire officials worry armed EMTs might become too involved in police work instead of caring for the injured.

NBC 5 Investigates: DFW Paramedics Consider Bullet Proof Vests for Mass Shootings

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