WESTFIELD – Fire Chief Patrick Egloff announced this week that the department received ballistic equipment purchased with a federal grant.
Egloff said he was able to purchase the ballistic equipment sets after amending an already existing grant from the Department of Homeland Security. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) was written specifically to provide EMS with training for possible active shooter situations. Egloff was waiting on receiving word about another grant when he decided to amend the existing AFG given to the department so that the equipment could be purchased.
Egloff said that they received 26 sets of ballistic equipment, one for each designated position on every fire truck, ambulance, and other department apparatus, as well as three spares. Each set costs approximately $1,000 and consists of a helmet, plate carrier, and plates much like a tactical police unit would wear.
“Now we have the gear so that if we get shot at, we are protected,” said Egloff.
He noted that this changes the way the fire department and its paramedics can handle a potential active shooter situation. Before, paramedics would enter the building or scene with police but without any armor of their own. They would work to go inside and bring the wounded away from imminent danger, sometimes with the assistance of police, before they could actually treat them.
“The way it was before, by the time the last person is being pulled out, people have bled out,” said Egloff.
Now, the paramedics and police can enter the scene together. Now that the paramedics can have full sets of body armor, they can treat victims right where they are without having to wait to bring them out. The ballistic equipment, in most cases, should significantly limit the damage a gun can do to a paramedic.
The AFG is given to fire departments all across the country to provide active shooter training to medical responders.
“It’s a competitive process, but we ended up getting it,” said Egloff.