Four Daviess County volunteer fire departments have received masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment through a grant from the National Volunteer Fire Council and FirstNet, Built With AT&T.

Pat Thompson, chief of the Airport-Sorgho Volunteer Fire Department, applied for the grant in the spring. The competitive grant provided between $8,000 and $9,000 worth of masks, hand sanitizer and gloves to the Airport-Sorgho, Moseleyville, Stanley and St. Joseph Fire Departments.

Thompson said although the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t raging the way it was in 2020 and at points over the past year, firefighters are still using masks and gloves and other protective measures when they respond to medical calls.

“We are still taking the same precautions, face-to-face and inside” homes, Thompson said Wednesday. “We encourage our people to wear a mask.”

The Airport-Sorgho Department has reduced the number of firefighters and equipment it sends to a medical emergency to reduce the potential for contact with COVID. Airport-Sorgho does a large number of medical runs annually.

“At the end of October, we made 286 medical calls,” Thompson said. “About 60% of our calls are medical related.”

Owensboro-Daviess County 911 director Paul Nave said recently that calls for medical emergencies were up in the late summer months and that dispatch had received an increased number of calls for breathing emergencies. Dispatchers screen callers to determine if a person potentially has COVID-19 so responders can be alerted.

Thompson said when firefighters go to a medical call, they wear protective equipment “whether we know or don’t know” if the person has COVID.

Volunteer fire departments received some protective equipment through Daviess County Emergency Management, but otherwise, departments bought PPE through their budgets, Thompson said.

The grant was competitive, Thompson said. The NVFC and FirstNet supplied about $900,000 in pandemic-related supplies to volunteer fire departments across the United States.

FirstNet, Built With AT&T is a wireless communications system for first-responders.

“For AT&T to support the fire service is a pretty good deal,” Thompson said.

The supplies were distributed evenly among the four volunteer fire departments, Thompson said.

“We were glad to get it,” Thompson said. “It was something unexpected, and it won’t go to waste.”

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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