Local Wilton and Durant emergency services are in dire need of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep themselves and others safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Personal Protective Equipment can include protective clothing, helmets, masks, gloves, goggles, etc. Wearing these items helps prevent or limit the transmission of bacteria or germs.
Wilton Emergency Medical Service
Wilton EMS is in need of PPE due to the national shortage. EMS personnel use N95 masks (preferred), face shields, disposable gowns and disposable gloves — surgical and homemade masks are used when needed.
Depending on the number of calls per day and its details, PPE use can be used extremely fast. For example, Wilton EMS Coordinator Wanetta Dykema-Sterner gave the following example: “If we have two calls and four people show up, that is four pairs of gloves and four masks — unless the masks have been coughed, sneezed or bled on, we have been reusing those. Four gowns and face shields per call. Then we get back to the station — we would use another four pairs of gloves to clean the EMS vehicle and equipment. Total for the day could be 16 pairs of gloves, eight masks, eight gowns and eight face shields being used.”
Normally the department would purchase PPE from Boundtree, but with the shortage – locals can donate PPE by contacting Dykema-Sterner at 563-732-2124. If making homemade masks, volunteers can visit the following website for guidelines:https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/7/Homemade%20Mask%20Guidance%20for%20health%20care%20workers.pdf.
A few donations have been made to Wilton EMS so far. Heather Rae donated lab coats and boxes of gloves for the volunteers. Steve Kraklio of Moscow donated masks and a box of gloves. Elaine Caldbeck, from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Bettendorf, donated homemade masks and a box of gloves. Mark Stoskoff donated gloves. Chuck W. Clark, from JM Eagle, donated facemasks. Unanimous donations have been made of homemade masks, as well as a box of face shields. Muscatine County Emergency Management also donated some supplies to Wilton EMS.
Wilton EMS is taking all precautions to keep its volunteers and patients safe during this pandemic. Along with volunteers wearing N95 masks, face shields, disposable gowns and gloves, sometimes a mask is placed on the patient when it doesn’t interfere with their ability to breath.
After PPE has been used, it is placed in a biohazard bag. Responders are encouraged to use hand sanitizer throughout the calls and wash their hands when they get back to the station. When volunteers arrive home, they take their shoes off before entering and disinfect to help prevent the spread. Many responders change clothes and take a shower before interacting with family members.
“We are dedicated to providing fire and EMS services to Wilton and the surrounding area and know in doing so we have to take extra precautions. There is some uneasiness about safety, of having enough equipment to keep everyone safe and being exposed and taking it home to our families or exposing others at our place of work. We want to be able to keep our responders safe and to keep the members of the community that we serve safe,” said Dykema-Sterner.
The Durant Volunteer Ambulance Service is currently not in need of PPE. Depending on the length of the pandemic, however, they will need more PPE in the future.
According to Dennis Frisch, President of the Volunteer Ambulance Service, the department has 40 N95 masks, 320 face and surgical masks, 50 face shields, 40 safety glasses, 12 goggles, 50 gowns, 40 Tyvek coveralls, 5,000 gloves and 275 hand sanitizer sheets.
The following is an approximate amount of PPE that is used per call: gloves - five per person, masks - four, shields – two (may be disinfected and reused), glasses/goggles - three per person (may be disinfected and reused), and gowns - two to three disposable.
If anyone wants to donate PPE, they can contact Jodi Free of the Cedar County EMA at 563-886-3355. Free is in charge of distributing PPE to those in need within Cedar County.
The Durant Ambulance Service has received a few donations of PPE: Corteva (250 pairs of glasses/goggles, gloves and masks), Cedar County EMA (gloves, glasses/goggles, N-95 masks), and community individuals (masks and face shields).
Other precautions are being taken to protect the volunteers and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Inside the ambulance, all equipment is disinfected after each call. Two volunteers are in the high-risk category for contracting the COVID-19 virus, so they have taken time off until the threat is much less.
“There have been times when it has been physically difficult due to the lack of personnel with only a few members handling all of the calls even though the call volume has decreased. It is great to have some of our members become more active as we have five members that are unable to go on calls due to age, injury, or other issues. When we are unable to respond with our crew, we are able to rely upon another service to cover our area,” said Frisch. “We are thankful to be told many times by community members that they deeply appreciate the time and effort we give to caring for our community and the surrounding communities we serve.”
Wilton Fire Department
“We have a really good stock of PPE right now,” said Wilton’s Assistant Fire Chief Raymond Sterner. For fire calls, the volunteers wear bunker gear, bunker boots, helmet, fire gloves, Nomex hood and a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
Depending on the call, volunteers can use up to four sets of gloves, four gowns and four masks. If homemade masks are donated, the volunteers still have to wear a N95 mask underneath or place a filter in it. If anyone is interested in donating to the Wilton Fire Department, they can contact Sterner at the station (563-732-2124).
“As far as precautions, we’re doing a lot of social distancing. We have suspended meetings and trainings until further notice. I think everybody in that department is handling the pandemic very well. We have a lot of good camaraderie, and we just want to get back out there, do our training and meetings, and socially interact with each other. We are a family down at the station. We look out for one another,” Sterner stated.
Durant Fire Department
The Advocate News reached out to the Durant Fire Department but was not responded to prior to press time.