(BUCHANAN CO., Mo.)— The Buchanan County EMS is upping its game when it comes to employee safety. The Buchanan County EMS Board has started buying ballistic vests for all EMTs to use while on duty. This comes after the Buchanan County EMS Board listened to the concerns of employees and studied both national and local trends of increasing gun violence over the past year.
"As you look at national statistics, interpersonal violence is on the rise and lately we have seen the use of firearms increase quite a bit in interpersonal violence," Buchanan County Executive Director Wallace Patrick said.
After six months of planning, the board strongly supported the request, according to board member Scott Meierhoffer.
"It's unfortunate that we're talking about a bullet proof vest, but at the end of the day it really wasn't a hard decision" Meierhoffer said.
"We want to avoid an incident where our staff would be hurt or killed," Patrick said.
Before asking the board, Patrick said some EMTs considered buying their own bullet proof vests.
"That's a $500 to $750 item so that's quite an expenditure on an individual," he said.
The bullet proof vests for Buchanan County's 90 EMT employees will cost about $75,000. Full-time employees will have an assigned vest and part-time employees will have a pool of vests they can use during their shift.
Fittings for the vest will finish up this month and the county will have the new vests by January 2019.