Area EMTs part of global demand for COVID-19 protective gear

Cleaning supplies, a disinfecting UV light, and respirator are all items that keep Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance on top of their game. But there’s one item that they don’t have enough of.

“N95 Masks, without question,” said Kent Stein, Operations Manager for Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance.

The masks come with a filter, to protect the wearer from breathing in COVID-19.

“They’re a very easy and effective way to protect both patients and providers,” added Stein.

Because of the coronavirus they’re wearing them more often.

“We wear the personal protective equipment, the gowns and the masks through the hospital. When we get to drop the patient off we’ll switch it out,” explained Stein.

“Taking care of our employees and first responders and crews taking care of patients in the field as well as hospital staff is paramount,” said Chris Eberlein, Emergency Physician at Gundersen Health System.

Eberlein, says that requiring EMTs to wear masks more often is a part of the global demand.

“We’ve always had some on hand but the need for it definitely has increased over the past few weeks.”

“When this started worldwide, a lot of the supply we had went out the door quickly,” said Tom Tornstrom, Executive Director at Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance.

As of now Gundersen Tri-State is confident in their ability to handle the increased demand that coronavirus could present, but if they can’t keep their employees safe that could change.

“The challenge is protecting our staff. If we’re not and our staff are off on quarantine, that lessens our ability to care for the general public as well,” explained Tornstrom.