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Preparing for a worst-case scenario: fire department receives protective equipment with grant

Posted at 5:32 PM, Feb 01, 2024
  • Ballistic helmets and tactical vests now sit on the ambulances and fire engines in Howard
  • Firefighters and emergency medical workers are required to wear the helmets and vests during drug overdose calls
  • Equipment was bought with a $20,000 grant

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Earlier this week, I brought you the story of local election workers receiving active shooter training.

They aren't the only ones making sure they're prepared for a worst-case scenario. I'm your Howard neighborhood reporter Pari Apostolakos, here with why the fire department just got some new equipment they hope to never have to use.

"Starting out, you know, 20 years ago in my career you never would have thought that you would need this type of equipment."

Howard Fire Chief Dennis Staeven says active shooter events across the country and even locally, like the shooting death of a firefighter in Appleton in 2019, made him want to prepare his department for a worst-case scenario.

That's why he applied for a grant to get ballistic helmets, tactical vests, trauma kits and pediatric emergency kits.

"Due to historical and modern events, more and more jurisdictions have been requesting this type of equipment."

Howard got the grant from the Northeast Wisconsin Healthcare Readiness Coalition.

$20,000 bought four level three ballistic helmets, four level three tactical vests, four trauma kits and four pediatric emergency kits. They now sit on the ambulances and engines at all times.

But firefighters have not had to use any of it yet and Chief Staeven hopes they never will.

"I think they'd rather not have to live in a world where they require this type of equipment."

Adam Marler is a firefighter paramedic new to the department. But, he has been in the fire service for years.

"It definitely is a change, you know, having body armor available to us ... Anything to protect us and to make ourselves safer is always a good thing."

The Northeast Wisconsin Healthcare Readiness Coalition also gave similar grants to other departments in the region, including Green Bay and the Fox Valley. In Howard, Pari Apostolakos, NBC 26.