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First responders considering bullet proof vests

Posted at: 01/08/2013 5:36 PM
By: Ray Levato

The Christmas Eve tragedy in Webster has other first responders thinking about their safety. Some are considering buying bullet proof vests to protect themselves if they arrive on scene before police.

The Northeast Quadrant ALS is located on Ridge Road in Webster -- and that's where News10NBC met Ahmed Mustafa and Bob Meddaugh. Meddaugh was at the scene that awful day.

Bob Meddaugh, President, Northeast Quadrant Advanced Life Support, said, “It was tense obviously. You knew the people involved. It was like a kick in the stomach for all of us and of course we still had the potential for an active shooter situation. So that was kind of in the back of your mind too until that was resolved.”

Ahmed Mustafa, Northeast Quadrant Advanced Life Support, said, “We sometimes arrive before police, before fire, we go in by ourselves. A lot of our paramedics were involved in the events of two weeks ago, and it's really raised a level of concern for personal safety as we respond.  Some paramedics have gone out to buy bulletproof vests and armor to protect themselves just because they're worried about what happens when you're there without somebody else.”

Meddaugh is president of Northeast Quadrant Advanced Life Support and he's trying to reinforce what EMTs and paramedics learn in their training.

Meddaugh said, “Make sure you're aware of your situation. That hasn't changed.”

Paramedic Mustafa is also a volunteer with the West Webster Fire Department.  Mustafa fears the effects of the tragedy will be lingering for some.

Mustafa said, “It will be a sound later, a backfiring car or something at a fire and someone will say, you know what, this isn't for me anymore. It might be a recollection of doing something with Chip or Tomasz or Ted or Joe. They may reevaluate their life choices because many of us, especially on the fire side do this for free, and on the EMS side it's a part-time job. There are other things that are providing our income and our livelihood and is this really the right risk to take?”

Most EMTs and paramedics have other full time jobs and they say that becomes a factor too.

The Northeast Quadrant ALS is a 24-7 operation. They contract with several towns for service including Webster, Penfield, Irondequoit and parts of Wayne County.  In Webster alone, they answer about 2600 calls a year.