New safety gear protects first responders during COVID-19

New safety gear protects first responders during COVID-19

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Green Valley Fire District has been doing a little online shopping as they plan to buy a new piece of safety gear for first responders.

The Power Air-Purifying Respirators, otherwise known as PAPRs, are designed to protect first responders in a pandemic like COVID-19.

Instead of having to wear a mask as they work, emergency crews can wear these respirators.

The way a PAPR works is you put the hood on, then a hose runs down to a belt, where it filters the air. As long as the battery is charged, there's an unlimited supply of clean, fresh air.

Filtering the air is very important if you’re transporting someone with COVID-19 symptoms because when crews treat patients with respiratory issues, whatever they’re exhaling becomes airborne. Those particles can last in a confined space, like an ambulance, for three hours.

“It’s almost 150 percent more protective than an M95 (mask). With that, our clinicians can go ahead and give whatever treatments needed for the patient, feel safe, and be able to perform at any time,” Batallion Chief Greg Van Alstine said.

These units are also portable, which means first responders can walk around the ambulance without restriction.

As you can imagine, they're not cheap. PAPRs typically run about $1,500 each.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Green Valley Hunting and Fishing Club, though, GVFD will be ordering one soon.

This will be the fire district’s first-ever respirator. It will also be the first PAPR in our area.

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