WITC donation protects first responders

Items not needed for classes were earmarked for law enforcement and fire departments.

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior.jpg
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior. (Telegram file)

Emergency responders and law enforcement got a boost this week when Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-Superior donated numerous boxes of personal protective equipment to Douglas County Emergency Management.

The donated items included N95 masks, safety goggles, protective gowns, medical grade sanitizer wipes and more.

The items were meant to be used by health care programs at WITC. With classes moved online, the college prioritized getting supplies to the county. There is a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"One of the urgent needs across the state and nation has been for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) so we have been working with local supplies to make PPE response kits for various agencies so they can best protect themselves when responding to possible COVID-19 related calls," said Douglas County Emergency Management Director Dave Sletten.

The agencies that will benefit include the health department, fire departments, law enforcement, jail staff and medical examiner's office staff. Sletten said Douglas County was fortunate to have a cache of PPE items — enough to make around 150 pre-packaged kits for emergency responders. Each kit contains a N95 respirator, disposable gown or Tyvek suit, rubber gloves, goggles and surgical-style mask for the patent.


Then, staff began to get creative to find additional supplies. They reached out to local dental offices and veterinarians and searched for supplies sitting on local shelves. The University of Wisconsin-Superior campus provided goggles from the chemistry department. With the WITC supplies, the county was able to make another batch of kits to distribute to responders in the field and local health care facilities.

"All the support from the community has been great and we can't thank them enough," Sletten said.

He said many departments are currently awaiting the shipment of some of the Strategic National Stockpile PPE items, as well.

This story was updated on March 26 at 12:21 p.m. with comments from Dave Sletten of Douglas County Emergency Management. It was originally posted on March 25 at 9:48 p.m.

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Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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