First responders, traveling nurses in need of personal protection equipment

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VIGO Co., Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — When it comes to personal protection needs like masks and gloves, it’s not only for those in hospitals.

First responders are facing a shortage of the supplies used to keep them protected against possible exposure to COVID-19.

“These items are badly needed. A lot of these guys are in short supply,” Troy Ramsey, deputy director of the Vigo County Emergency Management Agency.

When calls come in for possible COVID-19 cases, it’s first responders putting themselves at risk.

“They’re going out and they’re dealing with people who could be showing symptoms of COVID-19. And for them to have the proper personal protection equipment to try to protect [them]selves and anybody they may come in contact with after that,” Ramsey said.

To help meet the demand, the Vigo County School Corporation donated over 600 N95 masks from their own stock.

“Sometimes patients have to get to the hospital and maybe an ambulance driver or a paramedic that will need a N95 mask. we want to make sure that they have a good supply of those,” said Tom Balitewicz of the Vigo County School Corporation.

But it’s not only first responders who are need of supplies.

“Some of the patients we see, they do need us to come in. They might have wound care, they might have IV or hospice patients that are at the end of their life. We still need to serve them. Our staff want to serve them. But we want to make sure we’re taking the right precautions,” said Karina Wallace of the Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice of the Wabash Valley.

Nurses serving hundreds of patients in their homes are also at-risk of exposure and are in need of PPE, especially gloves.

“A lot of times we would just have staff grab a box out of the store room and take that with them. Now we’re having to ration them out.

Both agencies have the same message.

“Hopefully as partners are coming together and agencies and companies that aren’t healthcare providers that have masks and have gloves, are giving these to the healthcare providers so that we can take care of the patients,” Wallace said.

They are also asking for additional donations, including goggles, gowns and hand sanitizer.

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