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EMA director sets the record straight regarding PPE for firefighters

In response to the article in the Marietta Times “Volunteer fire chiefs say they’re not getting support” dated April 3, 2020, I would like to correct the misinformation that was presented. The Washington County EMA has been working towards providing as much personal protective equipment (PPE) as possible since the onset of this emergency. As everyone knows, the supply of PPE is short on a global scale. The Washington County EMA has been coordinating with state and regional EMA’s and local health departments and private donors to obtain as much PPE as possible. I commend all the chiefs and public service leaders for actively seeking and obtaining their own PPE, as they should be doing. I would encourage them to continue doing so. It is important all public servants work diligently together toward the same goal and not undermine one another in doing so.

At the time of the article and several days before, PPE had been secured by the Washington County EMA in conjunction with the Washington County Health Department. This PPE was secured from the Strategic National Stockpile, business and private donations. The PPE was inventoried and was distributed on a priority basis. The EMA coordinated with the Washington County EMS association and the Washington County Fire Chiefs association. The PPE was also provided to area nursing homes and health care providers in need of PPE. The EMA continues to work toward securing additional PPE on a daily basis and we will continue to provide as much as possible with priority being given to health care providers and first responders with specific focus on EMS.

To date, the Washington County EMA, in conjunction with the Washington County Health Department, have distributed 880 N95 masks, 4,000 surgical masks, 614 medical gowns, 20,000 gloves, and 100 face shields. The largest portion of distributions went to the Washington County EMS association to support the various county EMS services mostly operated through the fire departments. Other areas of distribution include health providers, nursing homes, home health, and other first responding agencies.

The Washington County EMA will continue to provide as much support as possible to every agency fighting this pandemic in order to mitigate this emergency. Politicizing this issue and undermining other team agencies with inaccurate and misinformation is counterproductive in reaching the end goal that everyone wants.

Any agency in need of supplies or wishing to donate is encouraged to contact the Washington County EMA at 740-373-5613.

Richard Hays

Washington County EMA Director

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