LAKEWOOD — Being a first responder has always been a dangerous profession. Law enforcement, paramedics, and firefighters will wade into dangerous situations to protect and save others.
All week long, News5 is focusing on The SHIELD616 Border-to-Border bicycle ride across the state of Colorado, which begins Wednesday to raise money for potentially life-saving protective equipment for first responders.
When SHIELD616 gifts a set of Angel Armor protective plates to a first responder, it’s in the hopes that it’s never needed, and if it is that it might save the life of a courageous individual who will willing to confront dangerous situations most of us would run from.
Even the best body armor isn’t a guarantee of complete safety and we have seen time and time again, that even without the best protective gear available, first responders face dangerous situations anyway.
In December of 2021, an active shooter went on a rampage across the Denver area, killing 5 people. Many more innocent lives may have been lost had it not been for the actions of many first responders that night, including Lakewood Police Agent Ashley Ferris.
Imagine if it was your job to deal with an active shooter, which several members of law enforcement did that night, including and finally, Agent Ferris.
“The best thing he could have done was display his weapon to me because at the time I didn't see his weapon. I didn't know who he was. He had police identifiers on, what if I had let him walk away? But instead, he made the choice to fire his gun at me, and he sealed his fate that way," said Ferris. "I told him, ‘Don't do this.’ and he said, ‘I'll show you what I'll do.’ and he displayed a gun from somewhere under his jacket or something - I can't recall. And then we were engaged in a gunfight.”
Agent Ferris was shot in the stomach in the exchange and continued to fire from the ground at the suspect, shooting and killing him.
“He was running. I was able to see when I hit him, he fell and I remember saying to myself or thinking, ‘OK, I've got him. He's down.’”
Agent Ferris then sent out a call for help saying, “I’m hit, I’m hit. Please hurry, I'm hit send medical.”
In those radio calls, you hear the urgency and get a small sense of what our first responders deal with in real time.
Looking back on it all Agent Ferris says, “The scariest part for me was when the other officer carried me into Saint Anthony Hospital. He had me over his shoulder and he was yelling, ‘Officer down, officer down!’ And thinking about that now, I still get goosebumps because it was hard for me to believe that I was the officer down.”
A fragment of the bullet that hit Agent Ferris struck her sciatic nerve and initially her right leg was paralyzed. She was released from the hospital in January of this year, and is recovering well and is now back on the job.
In May Agent Ferris said, "Now I'm able to walk, I don't have a limp anymore, it's really coming along, so I'm hopeful that I'll be running soon. I can sit around and be mopey about my injuries and, you know, be a sad Sally. But other people lost their lives and I didn't. I was fortunate and I have nothing to complain about. So emotionally, I think I'm doing great.”
In July Agent Ferris received national recognition for her heroism that night from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington, D.C., when she was named their officer of the month for June.