NORRISTOWN, Pa. -

The Montgomery County Commissioners voted Thursday morning to purchase more than $69,000 of body armor protection for county emergency medical personnel (EMS), enabling the first responders to immediately enter still potentially volatile crime scenes prior to full clearance from police.

The commissioners awarded a contract to purchase $40,680 worth of ballistic body armor and helmets from Witmer Public Safety Group of Coatesville, Chester County, and a second contract in the amount of $28,544 to purchase more of the same equipment from Lawmen Supply Company of Pennsauken, New Jersey.

Commissioner Bruce Castor remarked on the growing trend on nearly a national scale, whereby EMS workers are being issued body protection to accompany police and treat crime scene victims immediately.

He added EMS would also receive the necessary training to deal with dangerous, violent situations where victims need immediate treatment and compared it to a medic serving in an army unit.

According to Castor, the new armor will include bullet-proof vests containing metal plates preventing blade penetration and the accompanying helmets.

In other business, the commissioners approved a re-allocation of community revitalization funds in the form of a grant to East Greenville for $19,000 to expand a borough-owned downtown parking lot located at Bank and Washington streets.

Montgomery County Deputy Chief Operating Officer Lee Soltysiak said downtown East Greenville needed additional parking and traffic flow improvements to support downtown commerce.

Following a combined borough and county parking and traffic study, he continued, the borough decided to spend its remaining previously allotted $19,000  in downtown revitalization funds to create 32 new parking spaces and make necessary storm drain improvements.

East Greenville's application for downtown improvements was done through the Montgomery County Department of Commerce, said Soltysiak.