Lions Club donates masks to fire, EMS personnel

Judd Weil
Dodge City Daily Globe
The Lions Club received a $10,000 grant to purchase N95 masks from 3M to donate to Ford County Fire and EMS.

Ford County Fire and EMS received a donation of boxes of N95 masks from the Kansas Lions Club on July 31.

The masks were manufactured by 3M and paid for by funds from the Lions Club International Foundation dedicated to purchasing personal protective equipment. Kansas Lions District K-17 governor Diana Baumann said the masks were divided between Dodge City, Liberal and Garden City as an effort to serve the greatest needs in those areas.

Because 3M is strict about where its PPE goes, the Lions Club had to go through a lengthy application process.

“These are the only PPE that were granted to the State of Kansas by 3M,” Baumann said while commending Ford County Fire and EMS personnel. “The reason they did this was because it’s going to you and they appreciate what you’re doing.

“Even in other states they appreciate what you’re doing and the situations you’ve had to go through down here.”

The make of the masks is designed to ensure the first responders and rescue workers’ physical ability to do their job, maintaining steady breathing, unlike a mask that could hinder their oxygen flow. Dodge City Lions Club Treasurer and District K-17 zone chair Charles Wilkerson played a major part with his correspondence, which ultimately resulted in local first responders receiving the masks.

Baumann described Wilkerson as the Lions Clubs International Foundation’s “eyes and ears” for his frequent communication between the club and the fire department.

Wilkerson began his correspondence in April and was in contact with various health care providers in Dodge City.

“We had money we could give out, and these were the folks (Ford County Fire and EMS) that accepted it,” Wilkerson said.

Chief of Ford County Fire and EMS Rob Boyd said it was difficult for the department to acquire PPE early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These masks will serve two purposes for us, we’ll be able to wear them not just on EMS calls, but we’ll also be able to wear them at grassfires which will save a lot,” Boyd said.

In addition to COVID-19, Boyd said, the masks will help combat the growing cancer rate in firefighters due to hazardous exposure on the job.