Ohio fire department gets body armor

Fire Captain Andy Kaschalk said the department received the high-strength, light-weight vests after receiving a state grant to buy them in May

The Star Beacon 

GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ohio — The village's fire department recently received 17 bullet proof vests.

Fire Captain Andy Kaschalk said the department received the high-strength, light-weight vests at the end of December after receiving a state grant to buy them in May.

"We applied for them as an extra safety measure for our department, not to alarm the public," Kaschalk said. "These are basically a response to the many active shooter situations that have sprung up over the last few years."

He said if offered a chance to ensure the safety of its firefighters it was always better to be safe than sorry.

"If ever there was an active shooter situation, it would be the police's job to neutralize the shooter and our job to get wounded people out of harm's way and treated," he said.

Kaschalk said the vest were only for safety in situations like domestic problems, assault or when guns were on the scene.

"We didn't buy them to alarm the public, just to ensure safety if we ever faced a situation like that. We work in situations where safety is important. We want to be able to go home every night," he said.

He said all 17 members of the fire department had been fitted for their own individual vests and were made aware of how to use them.

"They're flexible and light and look like a winter vest," he said.

The vests cost $10,000, which was paid for with the Department of Commerce grant.

Also as part of the grant, six sets of level 5 ballistics steel plates were purchased and will be equipped onto the ambulances. These plates also protect against rifle fire and will be available for the police department, he said.

Each first responder will now be equipped with trauma packs that contain equipment like Quickclot, tourniquets, webbing and other supplies needed to stabilize and remove a patient from the scene.

"These trauma packs are used to control bleeding," Kaschalk said. "We need these tools to stabilize the wounded in case we were ever in one of those active shooter situations."

Geneva-on-the-Lake Fire Chief Tim Mills said he hoped he would never have to need the vest, but was glad to have one. He said Kaschalk did an excellent job researching the vests and getting the grant.

"In summer the village gets visitors from everywhere," he said. "I hope I never have to put one on, but active shooter situations are in the news recently and it's good to know we're prepared. We want safety to be first. It's a good precaution to take, especially on certain types of calls."

Copyright 2018 The Star Beacon 

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