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County aids in delivery of equipment

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Warren County Public Safety Director Ken McCorrison leaves the Ruth Smith Center after dropping off a shipment of personal protective equipment.

The law of supply and demand is on display in a global pandemic.

When everyone wants personal protective equipment (PPE) it’s hard to get it.

Over time, the market responds.

Manufacturers respond to the demand by increasing supply — whether that’s ramping up production of something they already make or adding a product line.

The early shortages of masks have been largely addressed.

There are still types of equipment that are hard to find, and the entities that want them need them.

The Warren County Department of Public Safety was called on and addressed a particular shortfall.

“Our emergency management personnel reached out to the assisted living facilities to see what their needs were,” Public Safety Director Ken McCorrison said. “Some facilities don’t have the same buying power. Not every facility is able to find every piece of PPE that they would need easily. Large skilled nursing facilities receive direct shipments from PEMA (Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency). The smaller ones do not.”

“Warren Manor, Rouse Home, Kinzua … they get direct shipments from PEMA of PPE,” McCorrison said.

The Ruth Smith Center in Sheffield does not. “Some of the smaller facilities need help getting their hands on the equipment,” he said.

There is a procedure.

“Our health care type facilities and agencies would reach out through their local emergency management coordinators and ask for what they need,” McCorrison said.

The LEMC would communicate with McCorrison.

The county has some equipment, but much of it is earmarked.

“The majority of the supplies we have received has been for the response community,” he said. “We did get some equipment on our own.”

If McCorrison has the resources available, he can send them out.

Or, he can look to PEMA.

If PEMA has the needed equipment, the agency will send it to the county.

If not, PEMA can look to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

In the case of the Ruth Smith Center, the request was not too demanding.

“They asked for a reasonable amount of PPE and we want to support them in any way we can,” he said. “Anything they had an issue with… we were able to meet them.”

The center needed masks, gowns, and face shields.

“We were able to use our connections to find the equipment that they needed,” McCorrison said.

The department collected most of the equipment from existing stockpiles in the county and stockpiles at the state and federal levels that the county can access.

“We were able to find a plastics company out of Chautauqua County that never made medical equipment before,” McCorrison said. “They started making face shields.”

The county placed an order and got the needed shields.

McCorrison drove the PPE to the center himself.

“We were able to get them what they needed,” he said. “We were happy to help them.”

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