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Seguin Fire, EMS to receive ballistic equipment

In many cases, firefighters and EMS crews show up first on a scene. Now, Seguin Fire and EMS crews will have the same protective equipment as other first responders.

SEGUIN, Texas — Across the country, police and SWAT teams aren't always the initial first responders to arrive at a catastrophic event, like a mass shooting.

In many cases, firefighters and EMS crews show up first. These men and women no longer wait on the outskirts of a crime scene. They run into these dangerous situations ahead of the others.

Now, one local fire and EMS department is adding an extra layer of security to further protect themselves, and in turn, save more lives.

"You train people and you teach people and communities have expectations. We can't perform those trainings or expectations without the proper equipment," said Garrick Herbert, Assistant Fire Chief for the City of Seguin.

Rapid response training for mass shootings and other catastrophic events is evolving.

"These incidents are not just happening in a large city," said Herbert. "If you think back, Sutherland Springs was not very far from here and that was not a major metropolitan area." 

In rapid response training models, fire and EMS crews are part of a Rescue Task Force. This means at any crime scene, they are among the first to run in.

Their goal is to save more lives when they get there.

"The best way we can do that is to get in as fast as we can," said Herbert.

To move more quickly, Herbert says his team needs the same level of protection as other first responders.

The Seguin Fire Department is part of Guadalupe County's Greater Response Committee. They meet once a month to see how they're going to address any threats within the county.

"Our responsibility being the largest city within Guadalupe County really is to make sure we can drive those decisions to help drive that policy and take care of our people," said Herbert.

In a project that began several years ago, Guadalupe County first responders added several pieces of ballistic equipment. They soon realized they needed more.

"One thing that's different out here is we all have to take care of each other. We don't have the depth that some of the larger cities have, so we're making sure we can equip everyone who's responding with the right equipment," said Herbert. "We don't have the luxury of a specialized team. Anyone that works here can be that first one on the scene and have to go in and perform those types of skills."

This year, Herbert says one of their top priorities was making sure their first responders were supplied with the right equipment.

Two weeks ago, Seguin City Council approved $75,000 to fully equip all city fire and EMS personnel with ballistic vests, helmets and medical kits. 

"Bandages, combat gauze, a lot of the same medicine we use today really originated on the battlefield. So the same type of stuff you'd see in military medicine is the same things we have in our kits as we're treating the same type of wounds," Herbert explained.

The $75,000 was reallocated from another city project that received grant money.

"We have specialized kits that we place on every unit, so every unit has the capacity to initially treat multiple patients at the same time," explained Herbert, who added that they received 30 sets of gear.

With a growing population of 30,000, Seguin first responders are busier than ever.

Now, they're even more prepared and protected for their next call.

"We want to make sure that everyone, no matter what city you live in has access to the same level of care, to the same response, no matter where we are," said Herbert.

The Seguin Fire Department anticipates having their new equipment in about six months.

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