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For First Responders, Lack Of PPE Renews Memories Of 9/11

John Minchillo
An FDNY medical worker outside a COVID-19 testing site at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, considered the "epicenter of the epicenter" of coronavirus infections in the U.S.

Police and emergency services on Long Island say they need more protective gear like masks and gloves to handle the coronavirus crisis. They see a strong comparison between their needs in facing the pandemic and their rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero after 9/11.

Richie Alles is a former FDNY deputy chief who became sick as a result of exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero. He says first responders are at the front lines of the pandemic.

He says they should have been ready to handle the crisis earlier.

“If we go back to the days of 9/11 where we had a similar problem with breathing apparatus and lack of proper PPE, you would think we would have learned some lessons.”

Alles says one of the differences between the coronavirus pandemic and 9/11 is that the virus can be brought home.

“The inherent danger right now is bringing that danger home. So their families are in danger.”

Alles says additional equipment would help first responders, but there needs to be a stockpile for this emergency and the next one.

“Absolutely to have a stockpile of probably PPE for the basic essentials of any major emergency and it’s always protective equipment, exterior protective equipment, eye shields.”

He says the federal government should get the private sector to manufacture this equipment at a large scale.

Read the latest on WSHU’s coronavirus coverage here.


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Jay Shah is a former Long Island bureau chief at WSHU.
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