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Great Falls Emergency Services buys ballistic vests for staff

Vests purchased at the request of staff
GFES EMT Chance Ostberg
GFES ballistic vests
Posted at 4:11 PM, Jul 25, 2023

GREAT FALLS — All of Great Falls Emergency Services' front-line vehicles now have two ballistic vests in them for staff to use on calls.

This is something staff asked for and are happy to have.

When putting on one of the vests for the first time, EMT Joy McCracken was asked how it feels. "Good. Come at me!" she said, patting the vest with her hands and smiling.

She said she had never been in a situation where she felt she needed a vest, but knows those situations are a possibility.

"We have had people assaulted," said McCracken.

Currently, GFES has 10 vests.

"These are considered a level 3A protection, which is certainly effective against knives or stabbing-type injuries and low-caliber pistols," said Justin Grohs, GFES General Manager. "It appears to us the risk of a stabbing-type situation is probably one of the more common scenarios, especially once we're in the back of an ambulance. It's a very confined, small space. Obviously, folks are checked before they get int the ambulance by both law enforcement and us but it's possible for something to get missed."

Grohs said the general increase in violence in various communities and a general increase in violence against health care workers specifically, especially EMS personnel, created the desire for the vests.

"The crew's safety and welfare is one of our primary concerns and there are many moving parts to that," said Grohs.

According to the CDC, violence and assault injures 2,000 EMS personnel each year.

EMT Chance Ostberg has had his own vest for a while. He also carries some medical equipment on his vest.

"There's just been a few situations where it's been, like, 'Better to have it in the truck just in case,'" Ostberg said.

He said having the vest gives him peace of mind, but he doesn't want to rely solely on the vest to keep himself safe.

"You still want law enforcement on scene with you because at the end of the day we're still medical professionals, said Ostberg.

Grohs said more vests could be purchased in the future if necessary.



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