NORTHEAST OHIO (WOIO) - While first responders are being called to active shooter scenes more and more, not all firefighters and EMTs have proper protection. So some local departments are trying to change that.
Firefighters are training for a "Rescue Task Force."
Lyndhurst Fire Department currently has two vests as they test out the training program.
The bulletproof vests for firefighters and paramedics weigh 15 to 20 pounds.
"We've got tourniquets held in this. Also in the pouch, we've got medical supplies," said Chief Mike Carroll.
They're red so they don't get confused with police or SWAT.
"It's a matter of un-velcroing it, throwing it over your head, re-velcroing it back together, and you're ready to go," he explained.
Chief Carroll is leading the push for bulletproof vests as a part of the task force. A group of 15 area fire departments are applying for an $85,000 state gr ant for 70 vests total. They're also training together for active shooter situations.
"So they get two to four police officers who will escort the paramedics into the zone to treat the victims shot by an active shooter," Carroll explained.
Firefighters and paramedics will carry out this plan after the shooter has left the area. But they'll respond quickly enough to save lives.
"This is very critical in these situations, because people can bleed out very, very quickly," Carroll said.
Their body armor will also include a helmet, knee pads, eye protection and a medical kit. They cost $1,300 each.
The task force is bringing firefighters and police officers together to make sure they're on the same page in a major emergency.
"It's very important we work together on this, because if an incident happens in our city, we're gonna get Mayfield Heights here, South Euclid, law enforcement. And we need to make sure they understand what we're going to do on the fire side," said Carroll.
The bulletproof vests can be used by firefighters any time on the job.
Many east side departments are teaming up in the effort. On the west side, Lakewood and Independence fire departments are carrying out the same type of training.
We're told three major hospitals in the area support the plans, including the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth Medical Center.
The fire departments will find out in May if they won the gr ant. If they get it, it won't cost taxpayers a dime.
Here's a list of some of the cities training for the program (not all of them are applying for the gr ant):
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