NIU donates PPE to DeKalb Fire Department to help fight COVID-19

The Northern Illinois University College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS) donated several dozen boxes of personal protective equipment to the DeKalb Fire Department Monday to help prepare the community to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

CHHS donated exam gloves in all sizes, isolation gowns, safety goggles, adult and pediatric surgical masks, and N95 masks.

“This will literally save citizens and us from being exposed to (COVID-19). We are that much more prepared for when the wave hits us,” said Bart Gilmore, deputy chief of the DeKalb Fire Department.
Because the COVID-19 is new, first responders are taking extra precaution. Often, that means entire crews must wear complete protective gear when responding to calls – even those that are not initially thought to be COVID-19-related. With that, responders are using far more masks, gowns and gloves than they typically plan for.

Sherrill Morris, Chair of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders, drops off a carload of supplies (masks, sanitizer, gowns…) to the DeKalb Fire Department 1 station on April 6, 2020.

“We are facing an increase burn rate on PPEs so we are stocking up as much as we can. We don’t want to come up short, as these products are back-ordered for months,” Gilmore said.

Sherrill Morris, chair of NIU’s School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders, coordinated the donation effort which included materials from NIU’s Child Development and Family Center, the medical laboratory sciences program, the School of Nursing, and the NIU Physical Therapy Clinic and the Speech-Language Hearing Clinic. A half dozen boxes of masks, three boxes of safety goggles, more than 50 gowns, and more than 100 boxes of gloves were included in the donation.

Morris collected all the items from multiple locations across campus and said everyone followed social distancing precautions. When she dropped off the items, Gilmore and several other firefighters at the DeKalb Fire Station 1 quickly, and safely unloaded her car.

“It is essential that our first responders have personnel protective equipment, and I’m glad I could be involved in the transfer of these necessary supplies,” Morris said.

CHHS Dean Derryl Block said the college was happy to share the donations with the DeKalb community.

“Front line workers caring for individuals with confirmed or possible infection with COVID-19 need personal protective equipment to protect themselves and be able to continue their work,” Block said. “We’re glad we were able to coordinate this donation.”

Gilmore echoed the thought. “It’s nice that our communities can work together.”

NIU departments or units considering donations of university PPE should follow NIU COVID-19 donation guidelines on the Research and Innovation Partnerships website (scroll to the section for Research Compliance, Integrity and Safety).

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