Digital Exclusive: Protecting First Responders

Digital Exclusive

NANTICOKE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) It’s a modern era for first responders. Everyone from emergency medical services (EMS) to fire and police need protection on the scene and more departments are including bulletproof vests in their gear.

“We go on a call and you just don’t know what you’re running into,” said Hanover Township Fire Department (HTFD) Chief Joe Temarantz. “You could be going to a normal house fire or you could be taking on gun fire.”

Eyewitness News has shown you the growing number of first responder units in recent history that are armoring up on their way to the rescue.

Hanover Township joined their ranks with 20 recently purchased vests.

“We sat down and we talked. We wanted to pull some resources and see what kind of funding we had available,” said Temarantz. “I think it’s just important in this day and age. Unfortunately tragedies are happening.”

It’s not enough vests for everyone in the department, but now each vehicle can be equipped with two vests in the case of a call gone wrong.

“With the training that some of our guys have gone to and just the world we live in today, we kind of want to take a proactive approach to possibly being injected into a violent or hostile situation,” said HTFD Lieutenant Michael Meeker.

Teams of first responders often head to a wide range of calls. Police, fire and EMS units are working together more now than ever, but the circumstances are usually more cautious.

“We roll up to police more often now than we used to,” said Nanticoke Community Ambulance Association paramedic Alex Tamagnini. “They come out on a lot of unresponsives, drug overdoses and sometimes just EMS calls that come in and seem ‘off.”

In years prior, first responders were welcomed to the scene, but times have changed.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” noted Tamagnini. “We could roll onto a scene and the next minute someone is shooting at us. At least if we have out vests we are somewhat protected.”

With more first responder units getting funds from the community, state grants and ‘kitty’ funds alike, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“Hopefully we never have to use them and they can stay inside the rig forever,” added Temarantz.

Stay tuned for the second part of this story as Eyewitness News’ Kevin Hayes takes a look at protecting first responders after traumatic events.

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