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Behind the Badge: Management Guidelines for Impacts to Body Armor

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2011
3 pages
This report presents guidelines for procedures to follow when a law enforcement officer has suffered an injury underneath his/her body armor.
All officers shot while wearing personal body armor should be transported to an emergency department or trauma center, when available. The vest should be retained with the officer, since it is critical in understanding the officer's potential injuries. Medical personnel should use Advanced Trauma Life Support recommendations in the evaluation and management of these patients. When the officer is stable, the treating physician should evaluate the vest for the location of the shot, and whether the shot perforated (went all the way through the vest) or penetrated the vest (went into the vest and was stopped). The patient should be evaluated for injury underneath the vest. Guidelines for medical testing are suggested for injuries in the following locations: the anterior chest; anterior chest over the cardiac zone; the posterior thorax (if tender in midline, if tender lateral to midline back and/or flank, or if tender upper posterior thorax); and abdomen. The guidelines also suggest referral for psychological assistance.

Date Published: February 1, 2011