Boyd County (KY) EMS Gets New PPE, Supplies Still Tight

Boyd County PPE
Boyd County EMS received new PPE. (Photo/Boyd County Emergency Medical Services)

Henry Culvyhouse

The Daily Independent, Ashland, Ky.

(MCT)

Boyd County EMS might be looking a little “space age” the next time you see EMTs on a call, thanks to a new set of respirators the department recently procured.

Boyd EMTs will now be outfitted with a shroud and a respirator meant to filter out COVID-19 particles in the area, according to EMS Director Chuck Cremeans.

While the PARP machines — the respirators that do the filtering — are limited to 10 workers, each EMT will be outfitted with his or her own hood.

Cremeans said EMTs will still be required to wear some type of mask underneath the hood — either a surgical mask or an N-95, which are still scarce in the market.

For those “Grey’s Anatomy” fans out there, it’s along the lines of this space helmet-like face shields the doctors are wearing at the hospital, as they wait for Meredith Grey to pull through her bout of COVID.

Outside TV land, these respirators run about $1,000 apiece, according to Cremeans. And, unlike television, Cremeans said the gold standard for personal protective equipment is still the N-95, which is going for $2 per unit.

“I just put in an order for 200 of those at $400,” Cremeans said. “Here’s the thing — just because I put in the order doesn’t mean I’m getting it right away. I still have supplies on back order from March. If we got all our back ordered supplies at once, we wouldn’t have room for them at this point.”

While reusable, the respirators are might not be good for all situations.

“If they have to reach into a car to pull a patient out, the hood won’t work,” Cremeans said. “They’re still going to need to wear N-95 masks.”

Same thing for walking into a COVID cluster. EMTs still must use an N-95 underneath the hood as an extra precaution when dealing with a household stricken with the virus, Cremeans said.

“It just gives us that extra layer of protection,” Cremeans said. “Luckily, Boyd County isn’t a big land-mass county, so the longest transport we might to do to King’s Daughters is 30-40 minutes. So that helps cut down on the exposure.”

Other PPE, like surgical gloves, are still hard to come by. The nature of EMT work requires multiple glove changes — compounded with preventing the spread of a contagious disease, one call might require at least three or four glove changes for each EMT on the rig, Cremeans said.

“We’re doing 10,000 calls a year, so you can imagine we go through a lot of gloves,” Cremeans said. “And the glove vendors are limiting the cases to makes sure there’s enough to go around, so we’re having to source from different vendors.”

The Boyd County Fiscal Court, which does not directly oversee Boyd EMS (the entity is its own tax district), purchased the new respirators along with other PPE, according to Cremeans. Judge-Executive Eric Chaney said that worked out to around $20,000.

Chaney said that money should be reimbursed through the CARES Act. However, even it wasn’t, Chaney said the court would’ve bought the equipment anyway.

“I have my opinions on the areas government should act and the areas it shouldn’t act,” Chaney said. “This is one of those areas where government has a place. This is just doing the right thing. We’re all going through a trying time right now, so this is doing our part to help support these men and women on the front lines.”

Cremeans said he is thankful for the support from the fiscal court and Boyd County Emergency Management through the pandemic.

“They both have been tremendously supportive to first responders throughout this pandemic,” Cremeans said. “Eric Chaney and the commissioners on the court have been there for us every step of the way and (ABCEM Director) Tim England has been very supportive in getting us the equipment we need.”

(606) 326-2653 — henry@dailyindependent.com


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