By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — The Newkirk EMS (Emergency Medical Service) receives numerous calls each week, as patients and victims need aid and transportation to the hospital. There have been instances across the state where EMS technicians have found their lives in danger, where some situations may involve an active shooter or a dangerous domestic call. Newkirk EMS technicians are a little safer today, thanks to new bullet-proof safety vests obtained through a grant acquired from the Dave Morgan Foundation.
The Newkirk Fire Department (NFD), which operates the EMS, received $19,200 from the Blackwell organization, which donates funds to communities surrounding Blackwell. The NFD was able to obtain seven vests with the grant, which individually cost between $475 – $550, sizes ranging from large to three-X.
The NFD obtained them in relation to active shooter training with the Kay County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) the past few years. It was Undersheriff Sean Gribsa that got them involved in the training.
“He approached us and wanted to know if we’d be interested in the training. I though it’s a great thing,” said Fire Chief Adam Longcrier. “He brought to program to the county, and we had two teachers from our station that helped teach KCSO, and other departments in the county.”
Due to the NFD’s location in the community, as well as service territory that includes Peckham and Kildare schools, it presents many risks of an active shooter.
“The Courthouse and City Hall are right next to the station. We have three schools in our district – Newkirk, Kildare and Peckham, and we have three casinos, so there is the possibility of something bad happening,” Longcrier said.
The Newkirk EMS team themselves have seen threats, necessitating the need for the vests.
“In the last year alone, we’ve been called to four shooter incidents, two incidents involving knives and last December, we were on a call where there was an assault on our EMT,” Longcrier said. “Two of our medics were punched and attacked while on-call there. The individual had charges filed in court over it.”
Longcrier admitted that while it doesn’t occur as often as in larger communities, such as Oklahoma City and Ponca City, there is still a risk.
“It happens here, it just doesn’t happen on a bigger scale,” he said. “We have to be prepared for the situation. It is our job, if something happens, to get those people out and get them treated.”
The new vests promise to provide plenty of protection against a variety of weapons, including both knives and guns.
“They will stop anything up to a .357 Magnum,” he said. “Most active shooters have an AR-15 or some kind of rifle, and it will stop those bullets as easily.”