Shortage of protective gear sparks pleas for donations

Local EMTs, health care workers are running out of masks, gloves, hand sanitizer
Ozaukee Press staff

Health care workers and emergency units throughout Ozaukee County are looking for donations of personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks, gowns and even hand sanitizers as their supplies run low in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

First responders from Grafton, Saukville and Port Washington this week asked residents and companies for donations, noting they are in danger of running out of supplies.

Both Advocate Aurora Health and Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s are also accepting donations.

“We were doing pretty well until Friday,” Port Fire Chief Mark Mitchell said. 

That’s when the Wisconsin Department of Health required first responders to wear protective gear when answering calls.

“We did OK over the weekend,” Mitchell said, noting the department got relatively few calls. “Now it’s starting to ramp up again.”

On Tuesday, the department had four calls by late afternoon.

That means a dozen masks, gloves and gowns, he said, plus the EMTs and paramedics place masks on patients.  

The department has looked into buying the items it needs on Amazon, Mitchell said, but shipments won’t be shipped until May. 

“With our normal suppliers, it’s ‘Not in stock,’” he said.

If times get tough, he said, the department will look into sanitizing and trying to reuse such things as masks and face shields, but that is more difficult than it may seem, he said.

Mitchell said his department received a donation of sanitizing supplies from the Port Washington-Saukville School District, but is seeking N95 masks, simple surgical masks, disposable gowns and Tyvek suits as well as full face shields that could be reused.

For the time being, he noted, they have enough disposable gloves.

Anyone willing to make a donation can call the department at 284-2891 and the fire department will pick up the items, Mitchell said.

“We’re trying to get people to stay home,” he said, rather than have them drop off items at the firehouse.

Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said people have been dropping off protective gear at the Police Station so they aren’t in need at the moment.

First responders in both Grafton and Saukville have also put out requests for donations seeking N95 masks, respirators, protective disposable coveralls, Tyvek suits or gowns, disposable safety glasses and face shields.

Homemade items and open products can’t be accepted, Grafton Village administrator Jesse Thyes said.

Anyone with items to donate may call the Grafton Fire Department at 375-5314 or the Village of Saukville at 284-0444.

Health care providers are also accepting donations of personal protective equipment.

“We’re doing our very best to conserve it,” an Ascension Wisconsin spokesperson said Tuesday, adding that there has been an “overwhelming” outpouring of donations from the public.

Ascension, which operates Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee in Mequon and clinics throughout the county, and Advocate Aurora Health are accepting donations of items that includes N95 and procedural masks, hand sanitizers, eye protection and face shields, disinfectant wipes and surface disinfectants.

Hand-sewn masks are not being accepted at this point, according to their websites.

Anyone wanting to donate items to Aurora is asked to drop items off at the hospital’s shipping and receiving dock. 

Ascension is asking that people contact to make arrangements.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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