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Cecil County first responders receive protective gear from federal stockpile

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Cecil receives stockpile of protective gear

Richard Brooks, director of the Cecil County Department of Emergency Services, gives an update Monday during the latest COVID-19 press conference, as Paula Honda relays his message in sign language.

ELKTON — First responders in Cecil County have received protective gear from a federal stockpile, amid the ever-growing number of COVID-19 cases in Maryland and throughout the United States, according to Richard Brooks, director of the Cecil County Department of Emergency Services.

Brooks provided that update Monday during the latest COVID-19 press conference in his agency’s Emergency Operations Center, where County Executive Alan McCarthy, Cecil County Public Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Lawson, Cecil County Health Officer Lauren Levy and Cecil County Sheriff Scott Adams also gave updates from the podium regarding the departments they lead.

“The materials are just what you would expect at this point — masks, gowns or outer-cover garments. They have been distributed to our volunteer fire companies this morning (Monday), which is what the intention was,” Brooks said from the podium.

He later told the Cecil Whig that the stockpile materials also were distributed to law enforcement officers, paramedics and other first responders.

Brooks emphasized that first responders in Cecil County already have emergency kits containing masks and outer-cover garments, which are used whenever they handle or treat a person identified as a “contaminated patient” for a myriad of reasons.

The stockpile materials simply will supplement the number of protective masks and gowns that first responders already have, he noted.

“There are universal precautions they (first responders) take,” Brooks said, before noting COVID-19 is uncharted territory for everyone, including first responders, and adding, “These are backup supplies. Is everyone prepared for coronavirus?”

Brooks declined to specify the number of protective masks and gowns that Cecil County received from the federal stockpile.

Leaders of emergency services departments at the state level throughout the United States made requests for the protective materials in the federal stockpile, Brook said. In turn, he added, the CCDES was among the county agencies in Maryland that requested a portion of the federal stockpile earmarked for this state.

“There are 10 national stockpiles located strategically across the United States,” Brooks told the Cecil Whig, noting that their locations are not publicized.

Maryland’s portion of the federal stockpile of protective gear arrived at the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services in Baltimore on Friday night, he reported. Then John Donahue, deputy director of the CCDES, retrieved Cecil County’s portion of the federal stockpile that had been parceled out to Maryland and brought it back to this county, Brooks outlined.

The distribution of the protective masks and gowns that had been earmarked for Cecil County first responders occurred Monday morning.

“The (federal) stockpile has already been opened and Maryland has received it and Cecil County has received a component of that,” Brooks said during the press conference.

On Tuesday, during a follow-up telephone interview, Brooks told the Cecil Whig that Cecil County Public Schools — which is in limbo after closing all of its schools earlier this month to prevent the spread of the coronavirus — donated a “great supply of equipment” to local first responders, including protective gear from the Cecil County School of Technology’s nursing program.

“Cecil County Public Schools good-naturedly did that for us,” Brooks commented.

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