Texas firefighters receive body armor

The chief said equipping firefighters with vest is “a sign of the times”

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Fire Department began to purchase bulletproof vests, helmets and trauma kits this week.

In the wake of police officer shootings across the nation, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood has decided body armor for firefighters is needed.

“When I go to sleep at night, the number one thing that concerns me is a coordinated, complex attack or an active shooter incident and how we’re going to respond to it,” Hood told KSAT.

The vests, Hood noted, are “a sign of the times. It’s come to the point where firefighters are going to have to do urban type battlefield medicine in the streets.”

The body armor will allow firefighters and medical personnel to enter a field with armed officers, in order to locate and treat victims at scene as soon as possible. For some victims, immediate care can be the difference between life and death.

“We have seen that victims do bleed out and we have to be able to go in and get them,” Hood said. “If you look at Orlando, there are probably people that would have survived if you could have gotten them out.”

While at a scene, rescue members would triage patients, assess injuries and treat them as best they can.

“With the type of weaponry that is used, you could get hit in the leg and bleed to death, so if we can go in rapidly and stop that bleeding, extricate them out and then triage them and transport them, effectively manage the incident, then that’s what we want to do,” Hood said.

Apart from wearing protective vests, rescue teams will also carry trauma bags with enough supplies to treat 12 patients. The department has also stored medical equipment supplies throughout the city for rapid access in an emergency situation.

The first shipment of gear will cost around $118,000, according to city records. The department’s special operations team will be the first to use the gear, followed by medic shift commanders and command officers. 

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