Fulton County’s Emergency Management Agency director has a single request regarding her department’s role in preparing for coronavirus: “We need more.”
Becky Goble is referring to personal protective equipment (PPE). Supplies are running thin throughout Ohio, as well as the country, and she’s asking for whatever help local health care organizations, businesses, and private citizens can offer.
Acting as a liaison between the state and Fulton County’s health department, the Fulton County Health Center, and fire department EMS crews, the EMA has found the state’s PPE supply also somewhat lacking in a time of emergency.
“They’re in the same boat as everyone else” in fulfilling requests, she said. “They can only do with what they have. But our priority is getting PPE. That’s what we work on non-stop every day during COVID-19.”
Isolation gowns, surgical masks, and N95 respirator masks are all presently hot commodities, and the demand is making restocking difficult. Goble said the EMA has a normal supply of PPE, but it won’t last long in the face of properly stocking applicable county departments during the coronavirus threat. She said the county’s first responders are already conserving their supplies, with each responder wearing a mask multiple times before discarding it.
“They’re following the protocol of the state. They’re very diligent,” Goble said. But when the coronavirus emergency increases “these supplies are going to go quickly. It only lasts so long,” she said.
When the state can no longer provide PPE “we’ll have to start thinking outside the box,” Goble added. “This is the unknown. You do not know how it’s going to hit your community. We are trying to be prepared right now. All the health care entities in the county are trying to help each other.”
Thankfully, she said, reaching out to the community has somewhat eased the dilemma. Area schools have provided a dozen bottles of hand sanitizer, 20 boxes of gloves, and a supply of disinfectant wipes. Area farmers and an Archbold construction company have donated N95 respirator masks used on the job.
Even citizens have delivered private supplies to the EMA. “We’re unbelievably grateful,” Goble said.
She is reaching out to businesses ordered closed by the COVID-19 threat – such as dentist offices, beauty shops, and tattoo parlors – to offer gloves used in their daily activities. “It would be really great if they would donate those to our first responders,” she said.
Materials can be dropped off at the county’s EMA office at 8848 State Route 108 in Wauseon or can be picked by the agency’s volunteers by calling 419-337-9207. Goble said the agency will make whatever accommodations are necessary to procure PPE.
“We’re trying to be proactive at this time,” she said.
Goble has fielded only one call from a concerned citizen about coronavirus. She said anyone with questions about testing should contact their primary care physician.
And despite what empty shelves at local retail stores may indicate, “I think that Fulton County feels calm about the emergency,” she said
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.