CN gives firefighters protective equipment, $12K for disinfectant unit

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/23/2020 02:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, left, and Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., right, give a care package including face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to Centralia Volunteer Fire Chief Shawn Christian. The tribe has provided fire departments in the tribe’s jurisdiction with such care packages. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation is providing firefighters in the tribe’s jurisdiction with care packages containing face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to help keep them safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a CN press release, for many first responders, securing protective masks has been difficult due to low supplies and high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because the CN health system is properly stocked with personal protective equipment, tribal leaders worked to secure more than 3,000 KN95 masks for area firefighters. This is the second time the CN has provided KN95 masks to first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fire departments face difficult challenges every day, so Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, the Council of the Cherokee Nation and I want to make sure our emergency personnel are provided with the equipment they need to continue protecting our communities and keeping citizens safe,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “As Cherokees, we know the importance of lending a helping hand in times of uncertainty. Providing these departments with protective equipment is a great way to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

The CN provided the supplies to 27 fire departments across the tribe’s 14 counties that expressed a need for the equipment. Each department received between 100 and 200 masks, depending on needs, states the release.

“If we didn’t have Cherokee Nation, we wouldn’t have these masks,” said Shawn Christian, Fire Chief of Centralia Volunteer Fire Department in Craig County. “They are so hard to come by these days. It keeps our firefighters safe and gives them peace of mind. I can put a package of masks in each truck now. Before, we only had masks in one truck. Thank you, Cherokee Nation. You’ve really done a lot for us.”

According to the release, CN leaders also recently met with Cherokee County Dist. 3 Commissioner Clif Hall and Tahlequah Fire Department Capt. Mark Whittmore to present a donation of $12,000 in special project funds to help purchase a unit that will produce a disinfectant solution known as hypochlorous acid.

The release states that the disinfectant is known to kill germs in 60 seconds and is harmless to humans and non-toxic to the environment, making it a common tool used in the fight against COVID-19. The disinfectant will be used to clean surfaces at schools, community buildings and other facilities in the CN. 

“Our first responders are important to so many people and it is vital that they and their departments have all the safety equipment they need to perform essential emergency services without the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19,” said Warner. “We can help make sure our responders have the equipment they need in order to protect others. I appreciate what these departments are doing for our communities each and every day.”

According to the release, the CN donated care packages to Butler Volunteer Fire Department, Camp Gruber Fire Department, Carselowey Community Fire Department, Centralia Volunteer Fire Department, City of Catoosa, Chimney Rock Volunteer Fire Department, Cowskin Rural Fire District Inc., Disney Fire and Police departments, Fairland Fire Department, Flat Rock Volunteer Fire Association, Town of Gore, Illinois River Area Association Fire Department, Keys Fire Department, Maple Rural Fire District Inc., Mid County Fire Department, Muldrow Fire Department, Oaks Fire Department, Peggs Volunteer Fire Department, Redland Fire Department Inc., Rural Fire Protection Dist. 1, Sperry Fire Department, Taylor Ferry Volunteer Fire Department, Tiajuana Fire Department, Vian Volunteer Fire Department, Woodall Fire Department, and Whitehorn Fire Department.

In April, the tribe provided more than 2,500 KN95 masks to fire departments, police departments and emergency management teams throughout its jurisdiction, and sent 5,000 masks to the Navajo Nation, whose citizens had been impacted by COVID-19 more than any other Native community in the country.

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