As part of an ongoing county-wide project to prepare local first responders for “active threat situations,” the Lynchburg Area Joint Fire and Ambulance District this week purchased its first ballistic vest and helmet for EMS staff with donated funds from the Hillsboro VFW Post 9094.
Lynchburg Chief Jeff Turner said the gear, which includes trauma care supplies and bulletproof body armor, costs $1,643. The department plans to purchase five sets total, two for each squad and one for the chief, Turner said.
Branden Jackman, firefighter/paramedic and public information officer for Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, said on Thursday that Paint Creek, Lynchburg, Southern Highland Joint Fire and Ambulance District and Highland County North Joint Fire and Ambulance District plan to purchase similar vests.
Jackman said county EMS staff will don the gear if they deploy with a specialized task force that deals with active threat scenarios.
The task force, which is comprised of law enforcement and EMS staff from Highland County emergency agencies, including the Highland County Sheriff’s Office and local police and fire departments, combines the law enforcement and EMS response to violent crisis scenarios so the two enter the situation side by side.
Turner said the vests protect paramedics and EMTs as they care for the wounded in such situations.
“Firefighters have what’s called PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, to fight fire,” he said. “We’re getting ballistic protective equipment for EMS on the task force.”
Paint Creek’s goal is to eventually have 15 sets of gear, according to Jackman — two for every squad and one for the assistant chief. Jackman said Chief Dave Manning already has his own equipment.
“We’re still working with our board on funding and looking at some possible grants and alternative sources,” Jackman said.
Turner told The Times-Gazette this week that his department is accepting donations for the vests.
The cost for an average setup of one vest and one helmet is $1,000-$1,100, not including medical supplies, according to Jackman.
As previously reported, first responders with the Leesburg Police Department, Highland County Sheriff’s Office, Hillsboro Police Department, Greenfield Police Department, Highland County North, Paint Creek and Brushcreek Township Volunteer Fire Department recently conducted training exercises at Fairfield Local Schools simulating various active threat scenarios.
“The training in Leesburg schools was the hands-on portion of the training,” Jackman said. “This is the equipment they need if they have to do that in the real world.”
According to Jackman, any law enforcement or EMS staff who attend training events can be on the task force.
“It’s pretty much anybody who’s had the training,” he said. “You just have to have been through the hands-on trainings where we go out to different locations.”
Jackman said in a previous interview that the task force and training is unprecedented in the area.
“This is new ground, training-wise,” he said. “Law enforcement and EMS rarely work together… but we’ve got big buy-in from every law enforcement agency in the county, and the (Ohio State Highway Patrol).”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.