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Lorain County first responders running dangerously low on N95 masks, gowns

Emergency management put in a request to the state to get more masks, but they were told it would take 70 days minimum.

LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio — First responders are among our workers who face the highest coronavirus risk, but as 3News Investigator Rachel Polansky found, some of our local agencies are running dangerously low on essential supplies like masks, gloves and gowns.

Whether it's flames ripping through a home, or a tornado touching down, first responders are always there. And, they approached the rapidly spreading Coronavirus the same way.

Only this time – there's too many people that need their help.

“It's not just our county where we have a tornado or a flood or an ice jam, but now we're working with state of Ohio and it's nationwide too,” said Tom Kelley, Lorain County Emergency Management Director.

Emergency Management Director Tom Kelley oversees Lorain County's 39 fire departments and law enforcement agencies.

“It's been quite a challenge where we could normally ask a neighbor for resources, if we need it. Now, they're in the same situation we are,” said Kelley.

Their biggest problem he says: getting enough N95 masks for his roughly 1300 first responders.

“Normally the guys wear them once a week if they have an issue, but now with this potential, they're using more,” said Kelley.

Right now, Kelley says they have about 200 N95 masks left, 50 gowns and a few boxes of surgical gloves.

First responders are only using this type of equipment for symptomatic patients.

Kelley put in a request to the state of emergency operations center to get more equipment, but he was told it would take 70 days minimum.

Lorain County Emergency Management is accepting donations of N95 masks, surgical masks, surgical gloves and/or protective Tyvek-type suits to be given to emergency responders and medical facilities.

If you’d like to donate, call the Lorain County Office of Emergency Management at 440-329-5117 between the hours of 8AM - 4:30PM.

3News also checked in with Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth on Friday, who said they still have an “adequate supply" of N95 masks.

Click here for our special coronavirus section.

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