Thanks to Stafford County’s proactive approach to COVID-19 response, we are in an excellent position to continue to fight the outbreak. With the increase in global demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, Stafford County officials knew early on those items like masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectants were going to be challenging items to secure.
"On the onset of this outbreak, Stafford immediately activated our Emergency Operations Center (EOC)," said Fire Chief Joseph Cardello. "Our emergency management professionals have the skills and expertise that have allowed us to be successful in coordinating information, organizing operations, and collecting necessary supplies like N95 masks and disinfecting agents for our equipment."
The EOC began identifying community needs and quickly activated the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers and partnered with volunteers from Team Rubicon to establish a warehouse within two days of EOC activation to begin collecting necessary supplies. Shipments and donations from generous community and regional organizations, health care partners, vendors and even other Stafford County Government departments began arriving at the warehouse. Thanks to these efforts and the work of our procurement staff, Stafford has been able to meet its PPE needs and has been able to share needed supplies with local hospitals and other healthcare providers.
To enhance collection efforts, Stafford coordinated with Mary Washington Healthcare (MWH) to determine what types of masks they were seeking. MWH provided instructions on their website for homemade cloth masks. With the instructions in hand, Stafford sent out requests to the community to begin sewing the reusable masks. Straightaway, the community answered the call and within a few weeks had donated enough cloth masks to outfit every member of Fire and Rescue and the Sheriff’s Office as well as other county staff that have contact with the public. EOC’s logistics team soon after began distributing cloth masks to Stafford Hospital, Mary Washington Hospital, Spotsylvania Regional Hospital, LifeCare and AirCare. The community’s supportive response has allowed staff to preserve the hard-to-find N95 masks for first responders and healthcare workers in direct contact with positive or suspected COVID-19 patients.
Following this success, CERT volunteers continued their efforts and began calling area businesses like dentists and flooring professionals to see if they had masks or other protective equipment they were not using. Typical of Stafford County, local businesses and individuals went over and above in their efforts to help the County. Sewists sewed. Walmart offered anything the County needed. A. Smith Bowman Distillery pivoted production and started making hand sanitizer and disinfectant, which they donated in large numbers, greatly helping public safety units sanitize vehicles and equipment between runs.
Another great resource was Stafford County Schools. Members of the nursing staff and other staff collected masks, cleaning supplies and other equipment that could be donated to the warehouse. The Schools also worked with MWH to coordinate daycare with the Rappahannock Area YMCA for children of healthcare workers and first responders. School librarians even worked to create and provide masks, face shields and plastic mask extenders to ease discomfort for the workers who need to wear masks for lengthy amounts of time using 3D printers.
Stafford’s Emergency Operations Center and warehouse are still activated and will continue to accept donations at the Fire and Rescue Training Center at 1326 Courthouse Road, Stafford, VA 22554. Donations may be delivered between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Pickup is available also. You may ask for pickup by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (540) 658-5304.