Personal protective equipment (PPE) can significantly reduce safety threats to firefighters. Knowing this, The 200 Club of Wake County recently donated 10 ballistic vests and helmets to the Raleigh Fire Department. The equipment can protect the wearer’s vital organs and head from injuries due to ballistics and blunt-force instruments. The department also added to this resource by purchasing 15 sets of the same equipment and plans to acquire more as funding becomes available.
When people hear the word firefighter, most think of just that — people who fight fires. However, firefighters also respond to incidents involving shootings, stabbings and other violent crimes where victims or suspects are in need of medical care and there may still be active threat.
“Our firefighters are trained, equipped and protected against the dangers of blood-borne pathogens, fire, chemicals and technical rescue events, but sometimes they are in situations that require a type of protection that we previously didn’t have” said Keith Wilder, Battalion Chief and commander of the Health and Safety Compliance Division.
Wilder explained that ballistics fired from a distance can reach well beyond their intended target and strike an unsuspecting firefighter. This was the case in June 2021 when a Wake County EMS medic was struck by a stray ballistic.
“Our firefighter PPE ensemble is evolving to include protection from this and other related threats,” he said. “We are grateful to The 200 Club for their generous donation.”
The new equipment won’t be worn daily. “When that specific hazard is identified or suspected, this equipment will be used to ensure our firefighters are wearing the appropriate level of protection while providing medical aid or mitigating an incident,” he said.
Donation Made by The 200 Club
The club’s donation was almost $13,000 in value.
“It is with great pleasure that we were able to donate the vests and helmets to the Raleigh Fire Department,” said Barry Long, club president. “We appreciate and respect the service every first responder gives. We hope this equipment is never needed but should it be, they now have it.”
The club provides financial help for the spouses and children of first responders who have lost their life in the line of duty. The organization also supports programs that assist first responders and public safety officers directly and provides college scholarship assistance.
NOTE: The Raleigh Fire Department mourns the loss of Davin “Dave” Olsen, father of Davin Olsen of the Raleigh Fire Department. Dave was a trustee for The 200 Club of Wake County. “Dave was excited about the work of The 200 Club and presented these protective vests and helmets to the Raleigh Fire Department. He will be missed by many, but his work will continue to serve others in the years to come,” said Raleigh Fire Chief Herbert Griffin.