More and more, first responders are equipped with armored vests because they are often in the same situations as law enforcement officers and need similar protection. Equipping ambulances and fire trucks with armored vests helps prepare first responders for whatever situation they encounter when they arrive on the scene.
Equipping first responders with body armor is a newer trend, so it can be difficult to know what kind of armor to purchase. Here are three things to consider when looking for armor for your first responder team.
First responders need armor that is lightweight. They often have to be quick and carry a lot of things. This is why a vest equipped with lighter soft plate body armor is recommended over traditional hard armor. With that said, it is important to assess the form, functionality and mobility elements of any vests before purchasing.
You can choose from vests that sit on the outside (overt) or the inside (covert) of clothing. Overt vests may help to deter someone from attacking a first responder and they are convenient because they can be quickly thrown on over top of a uniform. They can also be customized to display logos or colors so they look like part of the uniform.
Covert vests tend to be more lightweight than overt vests because they sit under their normal uniforms. These vests do, however, need to be put on before the first responder unit is dispatched. If you are looking for vests that can be put on at the scene, your team will be better off using overt vests.
The standard NIJ protection level for first responders in the United States is Level III. Level III armor will protect from stab wounds and shots fired from a handgun. Level III armor can also help protect first responders from falling debris. Both overt and covert vest styles can be equipped with Level III armor panels.
Once you decide which level armor and what style of vests are appropriate for your first responder crew, it is imperative to train your team how to properly put on and wear the body armor you equip them with. We recommend conducting training drills for those who are unfamiliar with armored vests in order to prepare them for any situations they may face.
At Vel Tye, we are dedicated to manufacturing armored vests to the highest quality standards. We have been supplying vests and other tactical gear to police forces, military personnel and first responders for more than 20 years. Please reach out to us today so we can help you select the right armored vests for your team.