Tusayan Fire receives homemade mask donations for community distribution
TUSAYAN, Ariz. — Masks are not just for doctors anymore — under new guidance from the CDC, anyone leaving home is asked to wear some kind of cloth face covering.
Since there are still shortages of N95 and other medical-grade masks, community members have turned to homemade options. Xanterra, for example, has been folding and handing out bandanas from their warehouse for employees to wear at meal pickup and other essential gatherings.
Thanks to donations from a few local seamstress, the Tusayan Fire Department (TFD) had a head start in distributing this personal protective equipment (PPE).
“We’ve had a lot of community members asking [about masks],” said Fire Chief Greg Brush. “We have to reserve the medical masks for our firefighters, so this has let us be able to help those who ask.”
The Fre Department has been distributing the masks to volunteers at the Tusayan Food Pantry, to help them stay safe while serving the community. They said they are almost to the point where they are able to start handing out masks if people coming to receive food need them.
Although the masks are not medical grade, and meant as supplement rather than substitute to other social distancing practices, Brush was enthusiastic about their quality.
“These are the top tier below medical grade,” he said.
Ann Scott has been a central part of bringing masks to the area, though far from the only participant. She and other crafty members of her church, Shepherd of the Hills in Flagstaff, have managed to make hundreds of masks to distribute to first responders throughout Coconino County.
Of these, 60 were given to the Tusayan Fire District.
Scott has donated an additional seven dozen so far between them and NPS rangers. A dozen have also gone to the food pantry inside the park, so that volunteers will be able to use PPE when performing their duties.
Going forward, TFD are hoping to give some to the clinic for their visitors, so they can save the medical grad supplies for staff.
A resident of Valle, Scott usually spends her time volunteering at Grand Canyon National Park. Any other spring, she would be out on park trails as part of a preventive search and rescue team. Since she can’t do that at the moment, making masks has helped her find meaning and purpose at a difficult time.
“It was something I can do,” she said. “[Sewing] is one talent that I have that I can use to help people here.”
When concerns about the coronavirus started becoming more serious, the Scotts heard that homemade cloth masks, though imperfect, could still do a lot to help stop the spread of the virus. So, working from a pattern she found online, she began making masks. Scott has been sewing since age twelve and has decades worth of scraps and other materials on hand.
Masks are made of three layers, in order to increase their filtering abilities. Two (pieces) of cloth sandwich — a (layer) of interfacing, a type of thick cloth usually used to give structure to various sewing projects. This is then finished with a set of elastic loops for straps and a section of pipe cleaner in the lining to help the masks fit more snugly along the bridge of the nose. (The width of elastic needed is currently in short supply, but a sewing store in town showed her how to cut a larger size without shredding the material.) Scott said that she will continue making masks as long as she has material.
If anyone in the community is making masks that they’d like to donate, TFD has said they are happy to be a hub of distribution for supplies within the community.
More information and for official CDC guidelines for masks and other face coverings visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html.
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