DOYLESTOWN, Pa. - As the spotlight shines on assaults and attacks against emergency responders nationwide, departments across the region have been boosting safety measures to protect their crews.
"The ambushes start opening people's eyes that we are easy, soft targets, maybe we shouldn't take it for granted that nothing happens in our town. We shouldn't think that way anymore," said Chief Chuck Pressler, with Central Bucks Emergency Medical Services.
The Blooming Grove State Police Barracks, where two state troopers were gunned down more than two years ago, is 100 miles from Doylestown, but that incident, among others, triggered Central Bucks EMS to look into defending themselves against someone who may pull the trigger on them.
"Times have changed, we can't take safety for granted," Pressler said.
A few weeks ago, 60 bulletproof vests were delivered. All crews must wear them on shift.
Chief Pressler said the drug epidemic is also a contributing factor in the decision.
"Heroin, synthetic drugs are dangerous, and can make people do some crazy things," Pressler said.
Cetronia Ambulance started offering bulletproof vests about a year ago.
"A lot more rising calls of people being combative, especially with drug use and synthetic drug use," said Austin Carpenter, EMT at Cetronia Ambulance Corps.
"You don't know who's who anymore, who's carrying a weapon, who will have a knife," said Selvin Alonzo, paramedic at Cetronia Ambulance Corps. "It comforts me at the end of day, I can go home to my wife and kids."
Allentown started providing body armor to full-time EMS employees in the 1990s. While the crews are not obligated to wear them, they are required to keep them with them in case of a hostile, dangerous call.
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