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Bodyguard Blanket designed for students to withstand worst

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Thursday, June 12, 2014, 11:12 p.m.
 

He got the idea from a foot doctor.

“So I get in his office, and Steve (Walker) brings me this printout for a protective tornado blanket,” said Stan Schone of Edmond, Okla. “I tell him it's a pretty good idea. Then I go to the dentist, and that guy tells me his son-in-law just finished a multimillion grant with the Navy for body armor. I've been an inventor all my life — doing this and selling different products and patents and things — but I've never seen anything take off like this.”

As owners of ProTecht, Schone, Walker and his dentist's son-in-law, Jay Hanan, found themselves in a media storm this week with the rollout of their Bodyguard Blanket, a pricey, bulletproof pad worn like a backpack and designed to protect students through inclement weather and handgun blasts at point-blank range.

“In four days, we've sold more than 500 to people all over the world,” Schone said. “There's a wealthy guy out West who bought 31 blankets for his mom. She's a schoolteacher.”

He said he's heard from a couple of potential customers in Pennsylvania.

At just more than a quarter-inch thick, the blankets — retailing between $1,000 and $1,200 depending on size — hold up against 9 mm and .22-caliber bullets, Schone said, and can absorb up to 486 pounds of blunt force.

He blamed the exorbitant cost on Dyneema, a high-density plastic lighter than Kevlar and stronger than steel, in the blankets.

They sound intriguing, but not practical, for school districts struggling to make ends meet, said Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers union President Nina Esposito-Visgitis.

“I would love to put bubbles around all our public schools,” she said, “and I commend the inventors. But God, it's a sad day if bulletproof blankets are our best hope to keep kids safe.”

Including Monday's deadly school shooting in Oregon, the nation has endured 74 school shootings since Adam Lanza killed 20 Newtown, Conn., children and four teachers in 2012.

“It's a crazy time. We have bulletproof backpacks, ballistic white boards and now bullet-resistant blankets that can help save lives,” said Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services in Cleveland.

Those products may meet emotional security needs, but to say they could have a significant impact in a crisis is a stretch, Trump said.

“What's a teacher going to say to a shooter? ‘Hold on, I need to grab my white board.' ”

Officer Joe Kozarian is an armed school resource officer in the Brentwood Borough School District. He serves as director of the National Association of School Resource Officers' Region 3, which includes Pennsylvania.

“Individually, these purchases are up to school districts, but they aren't that practical financially,” Kozarian said.

Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5815 or mharris@tribweb.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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