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‘COVID kits’ give Brookside VFD safety, time

Photo Provided THE BROOKSIDE Volunteer Fire Department created grab-and-go kits containing personal protective equipment for its members heading to medical and other calls.

BROOKSIDE — The Brookside Volunteer Fire Department is putting federal COVID-related dollars to good use by creating PPE kits for its members, along with purchasing a new machine to clean its ambulance and fire station.

Brookside VFD Chief Allan Ketzell said the department recently created “COVID kits” that contain either a protective gown or coveralls, shoe covers, surgical mask and N95 mask, safety glasses, gloves and trash bag. The items are contained in a 2-gallon plastic bag and can be grabbed by personnel on their way to an emergency or to treat and transport a patient.

Once on the scene, the medics will don the masks, gloves and glasses. If it is determined the patient is COVID-positive or is showing symptoms, they will then also put on the gown or coveralls for additional protection.

Once the items are done being used, they are placed in the trash bag and properly disposed of by the department.

The glasses are sanitized for reuse, and the N95 masks are sent to the state, which has a contract with a company that is sanitizing them for use again.

Ketzell said he came up with the idea of making the kits because it was easier for EMS personnel to have everything ready in one bag to take with them. Previously they would have to grab items from separate boxes and areas before leaving on a call.

With the kits, they can just grab and go.

Meanwhile, the department also recently purchased and is using a Clorox 360 machine, which is a device that uses an electro-static spray of a chemical solution to sanitize surfaces inside of ambulances. It is also used inside the firehouse once a week to cut down on the buildup of germs there.

Ketzell said the spray is allowed to sit for 10 minutes. Though it does not have to be wiped off, Ketzell said some surfaces must be wiped, such as the ambulance windows.

“If we can save one life with what we’re doing, then it’s a success,” he said of the kits and extra cleaning measures.

Ketzell said none of his department’s members have tested positive for COVID-19, but he has had some that needed to be quarantined because they were deemed close contacts of someone who had the virus.

Funding for the items included a grant for $7,613 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program COVID Supplemental Grant.

The VFD provided $362 in matching funds. The department has also received items from the Belmont County Health Department.

The department’s personnel also recently received the first of two COVID-19 vaccine shots administered by the health department.

Ketzell reminded that his VFD and others across the Ohio Valley are also in need of new volunteers. He noted that at his department even those not interested in becoming a firefighter or medic can volunteer to help conduct fundraisers or other events for the department.

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