ACFR receives grants for body armor vests

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ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. (WCJB)-- Alachua County Fire Rescue and Emergency Medical Services will have new equipment to protect them during an active shooter situation.

“The component in an active shooter that was failing was the emergency medical services fire rescue," Lt. David Torsell said. "The reason they were failing is because they weren't being allowed access to the patients early enough in the incident where life-threatening injuries could be treated and the patients could have better outcomes."

ACFR received three separate federal grants from North Central Healthcare Coalition to fund body armor vests. The coalition is a federal initiative to help reduce the danger facing the healthcare community.

“Its kind of unprecedented,” Torsell said. “It was a big change for emergency medical services and fire rescue."

The first grant was written last year and ACFR received their first two sets of body vests this year.

ACFR currently has 44 vests and can now order more next month.

Each vest costs $750 and within that vest, there will be a steel plate to protect firefighters from gunshots.

"EMS not being able to get in early enough and treat patients was part of the reason why there were large numbers of deaths," Torsell said. "We'd like to prevent that here in Alachua County should something occur and we're taking the necessary steps to do that."

The vest will be different from those worn by law enforcement officers.

"It also has some compartmentalization on it that allows us to keep medical equipment to treat patients while we're working hand-in-hand with law enforcement officers," Torsell said.

Torsell said the coalition helped them purchase over 75% of the equipment.

ACFR plans on having 76 body armor vests by March 2019. The vest will be distributed in ambulances, fire engines, and district chief cars.