AUSTIN, Texas (Nexstar) — Texas Baptist Men, a religious-based volunteer organization that responds to disasters around the state, has donated thousands of facemasks and biohazard suits to be distributed to first-responders.
The organization dropped off 10,000 N95 respirator masks, 2,000 hazmat suits and six decontamination tents to the State Operations Center in Austin.
“Normally we’re natural disaster people, but this nonetheless is just as important for us to be able to reach out and help,” said Dwain Carter, director of disaster relief for Texas Baptist Men.
“We believe that we’re mandated by scripture to help our neighbors and our neighbors or anyone who’s in need, and right now the need is for these masks to get out on the field, these hazmat suits to get out on the field in order for people to utilize that,” Carter said.
The supplies were recovered from a Dallas-area warehouse.
“Every time we go out and do flood recovery, we use these masks for our volunteers before they go in a flooded house,” Carter said. “We got to hearing all of the need, looking through our warehouse saw that we had an excess, and decided it’s much better out here to do what they’re intended to do, versus sitting on the shelves.”
Chief Nim Kidd, head of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, accepted the donation on behalf of the state.
“From floods, fires and tornadoes, the work that they do every day in our local communities to help households and citizens is second to none,” Kidd said Monday. “The fact that they brought these goods here today that they would normally use to be donated to the first responders and the healthcare workers that are on the front line is more than any dollar can measure this point.”
“That’s Texas, by God, that’s how we do things around here,” Kidd said of the donation. “It’s always those volunteers that are out there, that will always be the backbone of how we recover in this state.”
State leaders have lamented at a lack of equipment for medical workers. At a Sunday press conference, Gov. Greg Abbott bemoaned what he called “inadequate supply” of personal protective equipment.
“I am strongly urging our federal partners to step up the production and acquisition capabilities that they have in a way far superior to the state’s,” Abbott said Sunday. He established a temporary supply chain strike force to corral supplies for distribution to hospitals and healthcare workers.
Kidd said members of his team are working with worldwide manufacturers and suppliers to help facilitate flow of supplies.
“It’s not just us where we are as a state,” Kidd said. “It’s where we are worldwide and the shortage or the perceived shortage of personal protective equipment.”
“We all want more,” Kidd said. “Right now, we’re working with all of our first responders and healthcare organizations to find out what they have, what their burn rates are, what they’re going through per day, and then what their needs are.”
“There are a lot of facilities that have gone into conservation mode. Conservation mode may look like a shortage, but actually, they have enough equipment there and enough PPE to keep them satisfied for a short term,” Kidd said. “Depending on the number of patients that will be presented as that moving target will determine how long that short term is, and so that’s why the donations like this are so important to help satisfy those needs.”
Local leaders submit a State of Texas Assistance Request to the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Division of Emergency Management, for their orders to be fulfilled.
Texans interested in contributing monetary or supply donations are encouraged to contact local first responders and hospitals.