1st Gear First Responder gear review –CATI Body Armor EMS Package AR600 with the multi-curve CQB lvl 3+ plates
1st Gear — First Responder gear review
CATI Body Armor EMS Package AR600 with the multi-curve CQB lvl 3+ plates
Body armor really is one of those things that truly falls into the category of equipment and skill sets it is far better to have and never need than need and not have. Because the one and only day that you really do need it and don’t have it, could be your last. It’s really a pretty simple insurance plan. But that’s really how the 1st responder community approaches most things. It’s the reason we take the time to completely refuel, check oil and fluids, oxygen levels, and completely clean and restock the ambulance when they get done with what is usually several back to back bad calls at 03:30 in the morning. Because 1st responders know that one of the fates, named Murphy, is just watching and waiting with a Cheshire cat grin for you to not to just once fail to do these precautions, to teach you in, no indefinite terms, that you really should have. It’s best just not to tempt the fates when one already works so closely to death.
So, I work in a VERY rural district in the Rocky Mountains. There are times that runs can take up to 6 hours round trip. There are times that even running code 3 (with lights and sirens) it will take us an hour to get to our patient. When you live in such a remote community you must rely on yourself and your team, simply put, because there is no one else to call for timely back up. Often, we are called out to remote back country locations that are way out in the middle of nowhere and we may be the only 1st responder team going (as in no law enforcement) even if we request law enforcement there are times they just cannot get out to you in time. It is times like these that being self-reliant is the best prescription. There are also a ridiculous number of (registered) firearms per household. Don’t get me wrong here, I am a huge supporter of our right to arms for self-protection (pretty much every fellow first responder I know are,) but there are times that you may be dealing with a mentally unstable individual with a large amount of high caliber firearms back in the middle of nowhere that needs medical help but you could be walking into a potentially an unsafe situation. It is times like these that I have my own EMS body armor on hand.
My personal choice in this equipment is CATI armor’s EMS package using the AR600 with the multi-curve CQB. According to their website: AR600 Armor Plate is an Ultra High Harness (UHH) steel used in the most demanding of armor applications. While it is not a true NIJ rating, it achieves the level of Level 3+. What this means is that in addition to performing at NIJ Level 3 standards, it also is Special Threat tested to the 5.56 round of M193 up to 3100 feet per second. Level 3 steels do not protect against that velocity, however it does defeat all lower threats and special threats tested for M193.
You can ask yourself, “How do I know if these plates will really hold up under fire?” Well some crazy badass vets from the NITC Training Center (think 12th Mountain Division and Army Ranger types…not desk jockeys and cooks,) out of Idaho have put these though their paces. They put over 250 rounds onto a single plate consecutively from 9mm FMJ, all the way through 3 rounds with a 50 cal. It was only the last three rounds from the 50 cal. that were able to penetrate! But judge for your-self how they held up here’s the video.
I also have the trauma pads inserted as well. This is actually a very light set up for the amount of protection and with curved plates that contour your body lines it makes them noticeably thinner than traditional plates. This comes in handy when you have to kneel down or fit through confined spaces while giving care to your patient. It stays more out of the way. I have my carrier in navy blue with highly reflective white EMS, the Star of Life patches on both the front and back. I have not ever been shot at in the line of duty working with the ambulance. (It has only happened once while I was working as a fire-line EMT on the wildland fires last year.) I hope I will never have need of this equipment in the future, but I can’t count on that.
You can get into the exact same setup I personally use from CATI Armor for about $385 with everything; plates, trauma pads, carrier, EMS patches. Shipping will be extra. But I can guarantee that it will be immensely less expensive than the ambulance ride, ER, surgery, and recovery that if you are lucky enough to survive you will have to pay for! You can make a very, very bad day a little better with the addition of this gear.
There’s also one other big reason that I can think of to support CATI Armor, they have an as of yet unpublicized program where they are donating full sets of armor to rural local law enforcement agencies that are in need of and cannot afford to outfit their LEO’s with this life saving equipment. I personally know officers from two different states that now have their back covered thanks to the generous donations from CATI Armor!
Check out CATI armor at www.catiarmor.com tell them Spyder sent you.
If you are a manufacturer of equipment or supplies for the 1st responder community and would like to have your gear reviewed please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set it up.
I’ll have another review for you next week.