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Forsyth County EMS gets new ballistic vests

Oct 30, 2023

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Forsyth County Emergency Services now has 80 new ballistic vests after agency leaders said their personnel had close calls over the past year.

"(A) drive-by shooting occurred (near our ambulance). The vehicle in front of our ambulance got shot at," said Daren Ziglar, chief of emergency services in Forsyth County. "So that's pretty close and there's no law enforcement there. That wasn't a call that required law enforcement, it was just our crew."

The new vests were paid through a matching 50/50 grant. Piedmont Regional Trauma System, Inc. (PRTS) covered 50% and the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners covered the other 50%.

"When you think about it, every time you hear of an assault, every time you hear of a shooting or any type of violent call where someone is injured, we're there," Ziglar said.

Ziglar said every member of their team will have the option to wear the vests, but sometimes it will be required.

"They can wear them the entire shift if they want but there are definitely calls that we encourage them to wear them and then sometimes you just get a gut feeling about the way a call comes across or situation that's going on and we want to put them to have the freedom to exercise the extra level of protection," said Ziglar.

RELATED: Guilford County EMS creates first-ever EMT academy

Guilford County EMS has used ballistic vests for about 20 years.

"Employee safety is the number one priority for us so anytime we ask them to go into potentially unsafe situations, calls that are potentially violent calls, we want them to have the option of putting on this extra vest, this extra layer of safety," Russell Eurillo, the training supervisor with Guilford EMS expressed.

Recently, Eurillo said, there has been more of a need for the vests.

"The past few years everybody has seen how law enforcement has been targeted with a few things that have trickled down with firefighters into EMS professionals as well," Eurillo said.

Both agencies say they do various training for their EMS personnel to handle dangerous situations. Wearing ballistic vests can be part of dealing with these situations as well.

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RELATED: Guilford County EMS creates first-ever EMT academy RELATED: 'COVID has impacted us' | EMS agencies facing challenges with staffing