Bulletproof vests for Charleston County EMS, motion for bids moves forward

VIDEO: Bulletproof vests for Charleston County EMS, motion for bids moves forward

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County is taking a closer look at protective armor for its emergency medical services employees. The conversation has been happening for some time, however, last week's shooting death of a deputy, has compelled council member Teddie Pryor to speed up the process.

While Thursday's motion to consider bids on body armor did move forward, it wasn't without debate. Deputy Chief Charles Millican of Charleston County EMS says the need exists. He addressed council members Thursday.

"I can support it," says council member Dickie Schweers. "I just think we need to make certain that this is the right thing to do. Is EMS, are you all 100 percent convinced, yes, this is what we need? This is what we must have?"

"Fifteen-hundred dollars, it could be $15,000," says council member Elliott Summey. "You can't put a price tag on our employees' lives. You cannot do that, and the bottom line is we're not qualified to tell them what's good for them. They're qualified to tell us what they need."

Millican says the specialized vest would be worn over the uniform.

"The level IIIA vest, which the police officers are traditionally issued, will protect 9mm, 44 magnum, pretty powerful rounds."

Millican's hope is that each of the 168 emergency personnel would have their own armor, ready to go for certain types of emergency calls.

"Those include any calls that are penetrating traumas, stab wounds, gunshot wounds, assaults domestic-type situations, psychiatric-type of events."

The total cost, if 168 are purchased, would be around $250,000. The motion will go before county council Tuesday for a first reading.