Englewood firefighter EMTs given new bulletproof, protective gear

The Englewood Fire District in Charlotte County is equipping its firefighter emergency medical technicians with bulletproof gear to defend against situations where stray bullets could hit them.

Firefighter EMT Spencer Heldenbrand said he gets an adrenaline rush each time he responds to a call.

“That’s just what the job is about,” Heldenbrand said. “That’s why we do what we do. We’re here for the community and the people we serve.”

But some calls are more dangerous than others.

“The fear usually sets in after the call or after you realize what you did or what the call could’ve turned into,” he said.

A potential life-saving tool gives Englewood firefighter EMTs one less reason to worry. The Fire Control District placed 21 bulletproof vests and helmets in its vehicles. The investment in equipment cost around $16,000. Impact fees funded it.

Right now, crews at the fire district are getting ready to do training while wearing the gear with Charlotte County law enforcement. That way, they are better prepared to respond to emergencies together.

Chief Kevin Easton, from the Englewood Fire Control District, said without the equipment, they likely would not be sending them into those incidents. But he said, “we would still stay outside.” Firefighter EMTs can help victims as law enforcement responds to a call like an active shooter situation, rather than waiting for officers to clear a scene.

“The quicker you can get to a victim that’s bleeding,” Chief Easton said, “the better off the chances of survival are.”

The equipment will better protect firefighter EMTs, like Heldenbrand, so that they can treat your family quicker and more efficiently.

“Hopefully, it just gives us a little bit of security mentally,” Heldenbrand said, “so we could focus more on what we would need to do normally.”

Reporter:Erika Jackson
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