Brownsburg firefighters outfitted in ballistic vests, helmets

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (WISH) — Firefighters and paramedics in Brownsburg are adding bulletproof vests and helmets to their list of equipment. The department’s Facebook post announcing the new gear cites an uptick in violent crime as one of the reasons behind the upgrade.

Firefighters and paramedics often find themselves in the middle of dangerous situations, and that goes beyond fires and crashes.

“Firefighters have been in situations, firefighters have been targeted and so we wanted to get ahead of this,” Brownsburg Fire Territory Battalion Chief Ryan Miller said.

Pointing an increase in violent crime, Miller spearheaded a program over the summer to get all of his crews outfitted in ballistic equipment including bullet proof vests and helmets.

“We have reported shootings, stabbings, any SWAT situation which we would be standing by for, reported explosions, obviously an active shooter event,” Miller said. “Those are the types of runs that our policy is going to say we need to make sure we have this equipment on for.”

Aaron Ateherton is one of the firefighters who will be wearing this gear. He is also an Air Force veteran who is familiar with this style of equipment.

“When we were deployed, sometimes everyday, so pretty common,” Ateherton said.

He told News 8 he did not expect to ever wear that type of equipment again.

The department purchased 30 sets of the ballistic equipment, enough for every person on shift to have a vest and helmet.

“You never know what you are going to get,” Ateherton said. “You could have somebody show up with a knife, you could have a neighbor show up with a gun. “I mean, sometimes when people come back from being unconscious they can be kind of violent.”

Miller says his department has been fortunate to have never had an incident where a ballistic vest was needed. But if that day should come, he wants to make sure his crew is protected,

“We try to be prepared for everything. We have water rescue suits. We’ve obviously got the protective equipment for firefighting. We have got all the equipment we would need for vehicle and machinery extrication so this is just another tool that we have that we can use to protect ourselves to try to give the best care that we can for the community,” Miller said.

All of the other career departments in Hendricks County have started the process of implementing a similar program.