Trauma pads, called trauma plates or ballistic panels, are protective gear that provides additional protection to a person wearing a bulletproof vest. Considered as an add-on item, it is an insert that lessens the ballistic force of any projectile. It loweres the risk for ballistic and blunt force trauma, hence the name trauma pads. These inserts are mostly placed in the front, back, and side pockets of a bulletproof vest or carrier plate.
Trauma Pads: What are They For?
When a bullet reaches the bulletproof vest or the body armor, it still transfers energy to the wearer, even if it did not penetrate the vest. Trauma pads are made to absorb the force of the rounds and to increase the safety of the person wearing it. It is the body’s protection against back face deformation injuries.
The transmission force is the product of the back face of the body armor or bulletproof vest on a ballistic impact. As per the NIJ (National Institute of Justice), before they can give a passing mark from their thorough testing, the trauma pad should be able to halt the projective from reaching the person. Also, its back-face deformation should be lower than 44 mm or about 1.7 inches deep. Can you even picture yourself with a 1.7-inch bullet showing in your body, but you are alive? If then, it means that the trauma pad is indeed useful.
The main goal of having a trauma pad is to lower the transmission force placed on the body on impact and to decrease the risk of injury. The trauma pad works in two ways.
- It absorbs the supposed deformation of the body.
- It distributes the energy to a broader area.
Types of Trauma Pads
Various trauma pads are readily available in the market. It is a must-have item for military officers and police enforcers as they provide added ballistic protection to its wearer. But, did you know that there are different types of trauma pads, too? Trauma pads have classifications based on shapes, sizes, and materials.
The typical shape of trauma pads is a rectangle. However, there are also other options, such as hexagon, rounded rectangle, and SAPI (small arms protective inserts) cut, which have the same shape as a SAPI plate. If to wear under a bulletproof vest, the conventional size is 5 inches by 8 inches. Some variants come in 5 inches by 7 inches, 6 inches by 8 inches, and 6 inches by 9 inches size. The thickness is dependent on the material used but is usually lower than ¼ inch. But, if the wearer will use the trauma pad as outerwear, the size to choose should have a capacity of 10 inches by 12 inches.
If you are to pair the trauma pad with a military-grade ballistic vest, take note that a significant area of the garment already has a hard trauma plate-like insert. And because it is incorporated in the vest, it means that this insert is trauma pads or plates. A trauma pad is similar to a SAPI. For example, in a SAPI carrier, the external vest has aramid component where the wearer can load various ballistic inserts.
Here are the common types of trauma plates according to the material used.
- Metal: Metal trauma pads have components made of titanium or aluminum. This type is useful to decrease the risk of blunt force trauma to its wearer. But because it is resistant to deformation, a significant amount of energy is still sent through the plate.
- Ceramic: Ceramic plates, made of boron carbide, are popular with military use. They are lightweight and hard plates that allow them to absorb the impact of projectiles.
- Plastic: Plastic trauma plates that have polycarbonate materials give added compression to help disintegrate the force of the bullet impact.
- Fabric: Fabric-made plates need layering to do the job. The common component used is polyethylene cloth. Fabric pads are otherwise called soft-trauma pads.
Are Trauma Pads Necessary?
Typically, old bulletproof vests need an add-on trauma pad. But, newer versions of military-grade ballistic vests and plate carriers, such as SAPI and ESAPI systems, do not as they are rigid enough to withstand the energy of incoming rounds.
While there is very minimal information as to the right application of a trauma pad, it was generally made to reinforce the protection of its wearer, which results in decreased risk of trauma. Soft trauma pad placement is commonly in the chest area of an armor package. Most designs aim to cover vital organs, including the heart and lungs.
Inserts for hard bulletproof body armor have soft pads from high-density materials, like Kevlar or polyethylene. These inserts are always situated on the back of the armor plate.
The question still lies as to whether trauma pads are necessary or not. Unfortunately, some bulletproof vests and carriers do not have provision for trauma plates. Also, to pass the NIJ standards, soft body armors need to be as it is without add-ons. In real-life threats such as mass shootings or war combats, bulletproof vest wearers survive even without the use of trauma pads. Some wearers attest that the risk of having fatal trauma lowers because of an added insert.
Trauma Pads: A Go or No?
Placing an added trauma pad to reinforce the purpose of a bulletproof vest or body armor is optional. However, take note that it is best to invest in additional safety as you will never know what threat you have to face in the future. A trauma pad may be placed to you must-have items to ensure the security of your loved one. You can add it to your bulletproof vest and even to the bulletproof bag of your little one.
If you want to know your options, find out the best trauma plates at Bulletproof Zone. You might also want to check what are other bulletproof items you didn’t know existed. Why? Remember that investing in things that will help to increase protection and safety will always be the right decision.