WINNIPEG - Bryan Leach was unable to save the life of Winnipeg's latest shooting victim, despite frantic efforts. But the veteran paramedic is doing all he can to ensure he and his colleagues stay safe as gangs and guns become a summertime staple in the city's core.
Leach, 35, arrived at the Flora Avenue crime scene early Tuesday wearing $1,200 worth of body armour he paid for out of his own pocket. He is angry the City of Winnipeg won't currently fund protection for the 160 paramedics who are exposed to all kinds of risks while on the front lines.
"I think something will happen to one our members sooner rather than later," Leach told the Free Press on Tuesday afternoon. He was coming off just a few hours of sleep following the emotionally draining experience of watching a man die.
The city is currently studying the issue of body armour and is planning to survey all paramedics to gauge interest.
"It's like we're reinventing the wheel here, it just keeps dragging on," said Leach, who serves as a health and safety committee representative in his union. He noted a similar poll was taken in 2004. In that case, 50 per cent of members wanted protective equipment. Another 25 per cent were undecided, while the remaining 25 per cent said they weren't interested.
"With education and the higher prevalence of violence in the city, I'm positive (the numbers of) those who want armour have increased," said Leach.
He decided not to wait and bought his own equipment, with the blessing of his union. Leach hopes to write it off on taxes as a "work expense." He believes only one other paramedic has made the same investment.Read More Paramedic wants city to buy vests