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Mike Hilliard’s business, Hilliard Enhanced Learning Programs HELP in Campbellsburg offers unique merchandise and training materials to professionals in fire/rescue, EMS, law enforcement, military, medical, public service and construction.
“We are a one-stop training shop,” he said.
Hilliard and his wife/business partner Melanie both are seasoned veterans in the emergency response field.
He has worked in all three branches including the Shively Police Department, Dixie Suburban Fire Department and Louisville EMS. Hilliard said he still works with the Harrods Creek Fire Department as training officer.
“I started hanging around fire houses when I was ten years old,” he said.
Melanie Hilliard works in the search and rescue field, but was a firefighter with the Black Mudd Fire Department when the couple met.
Mike Hilliard said he was teaching a class Melanie attended. “We met at fire school,” he said. Hilliard said his profile was featured in the department’s newsletter as “30 and single,” she picked up a copy, and the rest is history.
He also has put together a professional staff made up of Campbellsburg residents who all have a working knowledge in public safety.
Hilliard said he began HELP in 1999 by purchasing interactive training CDs. He saw it as an innovative tool for departments that traditionally do not have major funding or traditional work schedules. Hilliard said the interactive nature of the products makes it much easier for emergency personnel to get the training they need.
“Our primary focus is training materials,” he said. “Departments have people coming in at different times and learning at different levels.”
Besides carrying DVDs and CDs at the new storefront location, Hilliard travels with a fully stocked mobile unit to fire schools statewide.
“We’re taking it to people who can’t come to trade shows,” he said.
Hilliard said Kentucky is broken down into 15 fire regions with between six and eight counties per region. Training is usually held at a school gymnasium and, depending on the size of the region may draw 100 to 1,200 participants.
“The state provides 20 hours of training per year,” he said, “so the regional coordinators plan the schools we go to. In London we had just over 300, but Lexington draws up to 1,200 people.”
Hilliard said the business grows every time someone asks for a different product. “We expanded into uniforms,” he said. “People kept saying ‘can you get this or that’ so now we carry hats, tee shirts, all kinds of things.”
Hilliard said inventory also includes gifts and novelties catering to the same niche market.
“We have figurines, baseball hats, plaques, decals, key chains and flags,” he said.
HELP also carries technical rescue equipment for confined space, water and vehicle rescue as well as wild land firefighting equipment.
For Halloween parents may want to check out the children’s costumes.
Hilliard said child-sized uniforms he carries are more durable and authentic than those offered at discount stores.
“We have kids’ police, military and fire costumes,” he said.
There also are supplemental items such as lights that mount on a rescue helmet, gloves and glove holders.
Work clothing items include uniform pants, shirts and tee shirts.
Hilliard said duty belts and holsters also may be purchased through his outlet.
“We’ve already seen interest from LaGrange correctional workers,” he said. “We offer competitive, comparable pricing to stores in Louisville or Lexington without the drive.”
HELP is located at 10499 Campbellsburg Road, just north of I-71 on US 421. Store hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information, call (502) 532-6111.
“We are almost a catalog showroom,” he said. “We have three-ring binders full of catalogs and can get most items within three days.”
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