Wednesday, December 02, 2020


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Missouri ambulance district seeks donations of protective gear after state demand runs high

ST. LOUIS ( -- Missouri Governor Mike Parson on Thursday tweeted a photo of a new shipment of personal protective equipment that arrived to the state. It includes surgical masks, gloves, gowns and face shields.

But the demand is outpacing the supply because healthcare workers are using them at a faster rate than normal; and that’s leaving the residents of Troy, Missouri to step up to help first responders.

Lincoln County announced its first case of coronavirus Thursday, proving why now more than ever, healthcare workers in the county must have this protective equipment.

The Lincoln County Ambulance District is making sure all its trucks have an ample supply of personal protection equipment. Out of an abundance of caution, crews are using them on themselves and patients more now because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're the first ones through the door, so we need these masks right up front," said Chief Ray Antonacci with the Lincoln County Ambulance District.

Last week the state shipped the ambulance district a supply of masks. But it was only half of what was requested, so the chief has been looking for other types of masks that could still provide protection.

That’s why they started getting donations from the community this week, sometimes while an ambulance crew was out on a run.

On Thursday, a local fabrication company that's shut down right now, knew these first responders were short on supplies and stepped up to help.

"He brought in a bunch of stuff,” Antonacci said. “Some suits, Tyvek suits, a box of masks and some gloves that they're not using right now while they're down.”

“So a lot of them are what would be called ‘off label.’ They're not necessarily made for medical purposes, they're made for industrial purposes. But they'll do the job during a global pandemic."

Besides the masks, the fire district is using ultraviolet lights inside ambulances to kill bacteria and any viruses. That, in addition to wiping down the surfaces inside the ambulances.

Antonacci said he's very grateful for the donations but could use even more. You can drop it by one of the stations or call the chief at the administrative offices.

Local agencies suit up, turn on UV light to fight coronavirus

In the battle against coronavirus, first responders are stocking up on the tools they need to stay safe, including personal protective equipment and ultraviolet lights that zap the potentially deadly COVID-19.

Upper Pine Fire Protection District began using two portable ultraviolet lighting devices, which cost about $6,000 total, to disinfect ambulances and fire stations. Durango Fire Protection District has an ultraviolet lamp coming soon.

The germicidal ultraviolet technology, made by EvergreenUV of Memphis, Tennessee, is one way to provide extra security to emergency responders when other equipment is in short supply.

“There’s a personal protective equipment shortage everywhere,” said Bruce Evans, Upper Pine fire chief. “It’s difficult, not impossible, but it is difficult (to get supplies).”

Responders wear personal protective equipment, like Tyvek suits, eye-protection and N95 masks, when they respond to a call in which the patient expresses virus-related symptoms.

Since they regularly engage with members of the public and live in close quarters while on shift, they are vulnerable to the virus’s transmission.

“There’s not an unlimited supply of first responders,” Evans said. “We have to stay healthy and stay protected so that we’re available to answer the call.”

Evans said the district has sufficient, but limited, personal protective equipment supplies. Durango Fire Protection District Chief Hal Doughty also said his district had a good stockpile of personal protective equipment – as long as COVID-19 patient contact doesn’t increase.

“‘Enough’ is a minute-by-minute definition,” Doughty said. “The thing we’re actually really struggling with most is the simple patient masks. ... I think every EMS agency is probably going through the same things we are.”

The districts are also practicing social distancing measures while at work and seeing patients. For example, Upper Pine employees are telecommuting, and station crews are isolated from each other to limit the virus’ spread within the district.

The districts could get some relief from worries over personal protective equipment. The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment began shipping supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile across Colorado on Monday.

In the meantime, both districts turned to the germicidal ultraviolet technology to enhance their sanitation procedures.

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