Pandemic PPE: Shaker Heights Fire Department Steps In
In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, personal protective
equipment (PPE) was in short supply and not just here in Shaker.
Fire departments across Cuyahoga County were struggling
to get enough PPE to ensure they could serve their communities,
while also protecting their first responders. The Shaker Heights
Fire Department stepped in to help, starting with an assessment
of the PPE in the County’s 52 fire departments.
“We found that some departments had a lot of N95 masks,
while others had a lot of gowns or other PPE,” says Shaker
Heights Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney. “Once we got the big picture,
we worked together and redistributed the PPE, so that every
department had a decent amount of N95s, gloves, gowns, and
goggles. We really took a we’re-in-this-together approach.”
This collaborative approach didn’t end there. When
the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a
supplemental funding opportunity designed to help cities obtain
PPE – the Assistance to Firefighters COVID-19 Grant Program
– Shaker’s Fire Department again took the lead, applying for the
grant on behalf of departments across Cuyahoga County.
The application was approved and last fall, the Department
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took receipt of almost $200,000 in PPE for 33 communities.
The PPE was distributed by the Department’s Community
Emergency Response Team (CERT), which has also played an
important role in helping the City and other communities
respond to the crisis.
Over a decade ago, during the H1N1 crisis, the City’s then
Health Department had stockpiled more than 10,000 N95 masks.
“But when we opened the boxes, we discovered that the elastic
straps had dry rotted away,” says Sweeney.
CERT came up with a way to fix the masks, and not just for
Shaker’s stockpile. “Other cities also had N95 masks with the
same problem,” explains Sweeney. “CERT fixed those too.”
Replacing the elastic was a massive undertaking, not to
mention tedious work, but to date, the effort has resulted in
16,000 usable N95 masks.
Sweeney also credits Shaker residents, whose generosity
helped make the effort a success. “Elastic was in short supply,”
says Sweeney. “You couldn’t just go up to the store and buy it. We
had a lot of residents who donated and that kept the CERT team
working to fix these masks.”
Shaker Heights Earns Kudos
for Low Contamination Rate
Recycling is alive and well in Shaker Heights. In fact, the City recently
earned kudos from Kimble Co., its Twinsburg-based recycling facility, for having
among the lowest contamination rates in Cuyahoga County. That means that
much of what Shaker residents are tossing in their buckets is being recycled.
“Our contamination rate is well below the 22 percent threshold that
can result in recyclables being landfilled,” says Patricia Speese, the City’s
director of public works. “Our residents have really stepped up and adjusted
to the County’s new recycling guidelines.”
The contamination rate is a measure of how many non-recyclables are in
the recycling stream. Too much contamination and facilities like Kimble have
no choice but to send the entire load to the landfill. This is what happened in
the City of Cleveland, where the contamination rate was more than 70 percent.
@ Shaker Online