LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Medical protective gear has been hard to come by as the world works to combat COVID-19, firefighters are one group feeling the effect but Tippecanoe County industrial companies are stepping up to help.
"Our need for personal protective equipment has really increased and so we reached out to our industrial partners," said Lafayette Fire Chief Richard Doyle.
The department's partners include Subaru and Arconic, which join a number of Tippecanoe County industries that have donated Tyvek suits and other medical gear like N-95 masks, disinfectant wipes, and latex gloves to the Lafayette Fire Department.
"We do a lot of training with some of our industrial partners in Lafayette and the surrounding area, so we reached out to them because we knew they had very similar personal protective equipment," said Doyle.
Chief Doyle said more than 75% of their runs are medical-emergencies, because of this, firefighters often have to break the CDC's six-foot distance recommendation.
"We still have normal runs, we still have people that have heart attacks and fires and floods but COVID-19 is out there so we need to protect us on every run that we go on," said Doyle.
The Tyvek suits can only be used once so once they run out, the department plans to use rain suits.
"As of right now, we have about four days of equipment left before we either have to re-supply or we have to go to another option," said Doyle.
The rain suits can be reused and they plan to use a sanitation machine to spray down the suits after use. As for the Tyvek suits, Subaru donated 75 on Sunday and Chief Doyle said firefighters go through at least 20 a day. Right now, their main priority is keeping staff safe before the virus gets worse.
"We have to keep our numbers safe so that we can still respond to not only this outbreak of COVID-19 but also just to normal things," said Doyle.
Chief Doyle said the department is expecting medical equipment from the federal government. Until it arrives, the department will continue seeking help from its industrial partners.