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Protection equipment numbers down for first responders

As area first responders answer emergency service calls in the wake of the COVID-19 virus, they themselves are subject to possible exposure to the contagion.

As such, there are concerns about acquiring the necessary personal protection equipment, also known as PPE’s.

Given the fact that Pahrump is considered a rural area, Fire Chief Scott Lewis said at present, the number of available PPE’s for his department is at best, scant.

Lewis also serves as the Director of Nye County Emergency Management.

Low ranking state

“We don’t have the numbers that we would like,” Lewis said. “We put in resource requests through the state, but quite frankly, we are at the bottom of the totem pole. We are a rural community, versus the larger city areas, where you have cases rising, and they are going to get top priority.”

Lewis also pointed out that Nevada in general, is not one of the top states with rising cases of the virus.

“The vast majority of resources have gone to Washington State, California, New York, Ohio, Illinois and Florida, where the numbers are much higher,” he said. “I can understand that approach, but at some point we need to make sure that we are prepared. We don’t want to face something further down the line, because this is nowhere near over. Many professionals and the doctors at the higher levels of the federal government are predicting that the month of April could be worse. If it is, we need to be prepared.”

Time matters

Lewis also offered his thoughts on the amount of testing kits, procedures and ventilators.

“Testing processes are taking too long,” he noted. “We are waiting and we are trying to monitor that to the best of our ability to ensure that all of our emergency responders, no matter who they are, are not subject to unnecessary risks.”

Though there are those who believe that the nation, as a whole, is overreacting to the current COVID-19 outbreak, Lewis said he disagrees with that notion.

“I think to a certain degree, that there are people who are under-reacting and I would say that social distancing is the key to this,” he said. “If you have ever watched any of the news reports, social distancing is something that we can do because we have the most control over it. It’s all about trying to stay away from each other and not mass gather, or co-mingle. Try to stay apart if possible, and stay in your home. That’s the best way to protect yourself. More than anything else, that’s what we need to heed.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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