Gwinnett County firefighters will soon add protective body armor and additional trauma equipment to their arsenals.
Prompted by an internal evaluation of procedures for mass trauma incidents, such as car accidents and acts of violence, the Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services is issuing body armor for firefighters to wear in potentially violent circumstances, according to a release by Gwinnett fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge.
“That was all based on what we saw unfold in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary [School],” Rutledge said.
Normal response procedures for violent situations require emergency personnel to wait for law enforcement to clear the area, which can waste time in a disaster. This armor is intended to provide firefighters the protection they will need to enter such situations and work with law enforcement to aid victims.
The department also has purchased trauma kits, which Rutledge said are already in use by fire and emergency services with “great success.”
“The ability to have body armor and the mobile ambulance here in Gwinnett and the trauma kits are all part of enhancing and making sure we improve our response to multiple trauma incidents,” Rutledge said.
The armor, funded by the department’s operating budget, will be purchased from Optics Planet Inc., Federal Eastern International Inc., Law Enforcement Supply and Operational Wear Armor LLC at an overall cost of , almost $345,000, according to the release.
The armor was approved by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon, and though he does not know an exact date the equipment will be usable in the field, Rutledge said, “I anticipate that that would occur soon.”