Merrill Fire Department buys ballistic vests for its paramedics with a grant. Photo courtesy Merrill Fire Department.

MERRILL – Merrill Fire Department recently purchased new ballistic vests for its paramedics to wear on potentially high threat EMS calls, replacing the outdated, hard-to-maintain ballistic vests the department had been using, the Merrill Fire Department announced this week.

In addition to active shooter scenarios, paramedics will wear the vests on calls that involve drug overdoses, domestic violence and physical altercations. Need for the vests were emphasized after the tragic shooting of Appleton firefighter Mitch Lundgaard in May 2019 during a routine EMS call of a drug overdose, the Merrill Fire Department said.

The vests were paid for with a $6,000 grant from Ascension Good Samaritan Hospital in June 2021, allowing MFD to buy four ballistic vests. 

“Pre-COVID, ballistic vests were a high priority for our department, especially after the Lundgaard incident, but funding and the pandemic slowed down our acquisition of the vests,” said Fire Chief Josh Klug in a news release. “It’s crazy to think about all of the PPE that firefighter/paramedics need to have now. It’s turnout gear, haz mat suits, wildland fire gear, PAPRS (Powered Air Purifying Respirators) and Tyvek suits for COVID, and now add ballistic vests.”

Future supplemental funding would allow the department to buy more vests. If you are interested in donating to this cause, contact the Merrill Fire Department at 715-536-2233.