Police Officers, Firefighters Equipped With Respirators, More PPE Supplies Coming to Combat COVID-19 Spread

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
kfarley@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Police Officers, Firefighters Equipped With Respirators, More PPE Supplies Coming to Combat COVID-19 Spread

Posted: 03/27/2020
The City Police and Fire Departments have distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to their front-line first responders that is being used to fight the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Indya Kincannon said Friday. 

Adequate PPE is on hand in the Police and Fire departments for the time being, she said, but more supplies are needed and are on the way.

“Right now, our police officers, firefighters and paramedics have what they need to protect themselves and the people they serve,” Kincannon said. “But we’re working with our partners to increase the number of N95 respirators, surgical masks, hand sanitizers, cleaning wipes and other supplies needed by hospitals and emergency personnel.

“We support the request from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency that the public drop off commercially-produced and approved PPE at the National Guard Armory on Sutherland Avenue. Donated items can be designated to stay locally. We also have plans in place to activate a City-staffed donation site in the very near future.”

Other materials being collected include gloves, gowns, face shields, goggles, thermometers and Tyvek suits. For more details on the TEMA collection, visit https://bit.ly/33OQI0i.

Both the City Fire and Police departments have ordered additional PPE.

“We’re in good shape right now, but we’re very dependent on the supply chain,” Assistant Fire Chief Mark Wilbanks said today. “We have N95 respirators on every firetruck, and some in reserve, but that’s probably what we’re shortest on.”

More than 1,500 respirators have been ordered and could arrive at any time. KFD has about 290 first responders who would use the masks when they’re treating persons who may have been exposed to the Coronavirus.

Meanwhile, about 325 patrol and criminal investigation officers are being issued N95 respirators, Sgt. Bryan Davis said.

“We’ve ordered more – we have a bulk order coming in,” Davis said. “We appreciate that people and businesses have been donating hand sanitizer to the Police Department.”

TEMA and the Knox County Health Department also are working to supply hospitals, public health providers, and EMS / first responders with PPE.

Local needs and the community’s response are rapidly changing. Visit www.knoxvilletn.gov/COVID19 for updates and resources.