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Departments : First Look

Ballistic Transformer

Ideal for active shooter incidents, the MFAB from Protective Products International can be reconfigured for various ballistic needs.

March 01, 2009  |  by - Also by this author

Imagine one item that can be deployed as a bomb blanket, a ballistic shield, and a litter for moving the wounded, just for starters. Protective Products International's Multi-Functional Armor Blanket (MFAB), pronounced "em-fab," was originally designed to prevent bullets from penetrating a patrol vehicle's partition. But what began as a solution to one problem evolved into a versatile device for first responders.

It all began with one agency's request following a tragic death. A suspect who managed to secret a gun in the back of a patrol car shot through the partition, killing the arresting officer sitting in the front seat. "The department asked me to come up with something that would provide protection between the back seat and front seat, and the product evolved from there," says Andrew McCleister, Protective Products' national director, ballistic vehicle solutions.

For its original intended use, the MFAB attaches to a patrol car's partition with hanging bolts and a cotter pin. This design allows for easy removal when necessary. "You can pull a release cord, the blanket will fall away from the cage, and then you can deploy it as a shield," McCleister explains.

Manufactured from level IIIA ballistic materials, the 12.5-pound, two-by-four-foot MFAB provides eight square feet of coverage and meets military fragmentation standards so it can also serve as a bomb blanket. But the real key to the MFAB's versatility is its multiple adjustable hanging points.

"Because the attachment points and everything are so changeable—they're Velcro—you could hook this on to anything," says McCleister. "I can move my hanging points to any position on the blanket, whether I want to hang it vertically or horizontally. I can even attach multiple blankets together to line the inside of a SWAT van or a surveillance truck, for instance."

An additional attachment strap allows the MFAB to hang over the door of a vehicle or off the side of an SUV, while separate deployable carry handles transform the blanket into a litter.

As an added bonus, a detachable plate harness kit is incorporated into the design. Pulling a quick release cord frees the fully deployable kit, which can hold level III or level IV plates. And unlike a ballistic vest, the entire MFAB can be stored folded in a carry bag. This means a supervisor or other officer without a patrol car partition can keep an MFAB handy in the trunk or on the seat without taking up too much valuable real estate.

McCleister sees his invention, at its heart, as a first responder kit that can be endlessly reconfigured on the fly to meet each user's needs.

"I could throw the MFAB over the windshield. And if I'm operating a vehicle with ballistic doors, then between the blanket, the engine block, and the door, I would have basically a nest of protection from 45-degree angles," suggests McCleister.

With an MFAB and a creative mind, possibilities abound.

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