Bullet-proof vests to be issued to Scottish ambulance staff

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Medics will be given the protective gear in case of terrorist attacks

SCOTS paramedics are to be issued with bullet proof vests to protect them in the event of a major terrorist attack.

Specialist operations and response teams of paramedics were set up last year in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen to go to the “hot zone” of major incidents, including a Mumbai-style terror attack.

The 200 sets of new body armour for the specialist teams will cost up to £130,000.

It is designed to protect the front, back and sides of the wearer from handgun bullets and shrapnel.

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We are in the process of upgrading the body armour for our special operations teams, who are specially equipped and trained to treat patients inside the hot zone at certain types of major incidents.

“This is specialised equipment that is only used in particular situations, where those teams will work alongside partner agencies.

“The project is in line with similar upgrades in other UK ambulance services.”

The special operations and response teams were set up with terrorism and major incidents in mind.

Whereas usually police and fire crews would bring casualties to paramedics, these specialist teams are trained to go into dangerous situations alongside them.

In the past three years The Scottish Ambulance Service has invested £4.3 million into its specially trained teams for counter terrorism and major incidents, including 106 specially trained paramedics and ambulance technicians.

These teams have been trained to work at large scale hazardous incidents, and have been trained to operate at chemical, radiological, nuclear, biological and explosives incidents.

Additional water rescue training means they can also play an important part in dealing with floods.

In July 2010 The Association Ambulance Personnel said Scottish ambulance workers should be offered body armour for certain shifts.

Jonathan Fox, a spokesman for the organisation said ambulance crews faced a more dangerous environment than ever.

He said: “The working environment is now more hostile and dangerous than at any time previously, with paramedics facing escalating levels of violence on a daily basis.

“Body armour is part of a package of measures for a safer working environment for front line ambulance personnel.”

In 2005 the APAA carried out a survey of delegates and its annual meeting which found 13 out of the 15 ambulance trusts represented wanted body armour.

The delegates asked for armour in the form of ‘stab vests’ or dual purpose vests which also offer some protection against bullets.

All eight police forces in Scotland are equipped with protective body armour.

The Scottish Government provides funding for specialised Counter Terrorism police, who work to investigate terrorist activity, pursue suspects acrossScotlandand take steps to minimise the risk of attack.

 

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