Coronavirus Updates

Local first responders get needed equipment


HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — Inside the boxes delivered to the Cabell-Huntington Health Department this morning was something that has been in high demand—yet low availability—in recent months: personal protective equipment (PPE).

Jerry Beckett, Emergency Planner for Cabell County Emergency Services, said he’s glad that access to PPE has gotten more stable.

When this first started a couple of months ago, it was really bad.  Our first responders didn’t even have it, much less the general public, but we were having a hard time getting it for our first responders. The vendors are back up and running and it’s not too bad now.  It’s flowing pretty good.

Jerry Beckett, Emergency Planner for Cabell County Emergency Services

This equipment is part of a shipment delivered by the West Virginia National Guard to each county in the state.

The hand-off in Cabell County took place at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.  Among those receiving the gear Friday were Cabell County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the Huntington Fire Department, and the Huntington Police Department.

Sergeant Matt Null says the contents of these boxes are what keep his officers—and the people they come into contact with—safe.

“We put in a request for the items that are needed the most, and they’ve been able to provide that, and then provide a means for us to come by and pick it up,” Null said.  

Dr. Michael Kilkenny, MD, Physician Director of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, says it’s precisely the first responders, who have an inherent risk due to daily interaction with the public, who need this equipment the most.

“Personal protective equipment for, especially for these essential providers that are coming by here, they’re dealing with the public every day, they need to be protected,” Kilkenny said.

Now, they are one step closer to staying protected.

“We put in an order once every two weeks for all the agencies.  We’ve been serving 40 some agencies throughout Cabell County,” Beckett said.

Cabell County has been fortunate so far, with its relatively low number of infections.

“We’re very lucky in Cabell County, compared to some of the other counties, the number of cases here is lower, and we hope to keep it that way,” Kilkenny said.

Due to new state guidelines, this round of PPE was reserved for first responders. However, Beckett said he has a list of vendors that may sell this equipment to private agencies and the public and would be happy to facilitate the connection.

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