MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Typically, emergency managers in Florida are stocking food, water and essentials to weather a hurricane. But the coronavirus crisis has Miami-Dade Emergency Management procuring and delivering personal protection equipment.
“For the entire county. For the first responders, the nurses in the hospitals. Nursing homes, ALF’s, that type of thing,” said Frank Rollason, the director of Miami-Dade Emergency Management.
Cities and hospitals are responsible for providing their own equipment. But if they can’t find it, it’s Rollason’s job to find it.
The task is not easy. The entire world is after the supplies he is looking for. Sanitizer, gloves, masks and more.
“The holy grail in this operation is the N95 masks. It is a mask that filters out the virus itself. They are hard to come by. The price has gone way up because of supply and demand,” Rollason said.
And when they do find them, it’s not always the real deal.
“We find a lot of counterfeits on the market. We have to test them all before we buy them,” he said. “So it’s a process that we go through.”
For the last few week, it’s been a struggle. As equipment comes in, it goes out – to police officers, fire rescue and hospitals. They cannot keep up with demand and often have to divide up orders.
“Wisdom of Solomon. We got to divide the babies. There is not enough to go around,” he explained.
The Emergency Operations Center is currently working at a Level 2. Should the number of coronavirus cases overwhelm our hospitals, the center will active to Level 1 – typically needed for an approaching hurricane.
“Hopefully, we are not going to get to that in this particular pandemic exercise that we are going through,” he said.
Emergency Management is also coordinating the producing and distribution of some 30,000 meals a day.
The days are long, but they are committed to help South Florida get through these challenging times.