Packing the PPEs

A good friend of mine was fixing the attic fan in his home and as he climbed the ladder in the attic, he scratched his forehead on a crossbeam.  Crawling along, he picked up splinters in both hands and cut one hand replacing the fan belt.  On the way down the ladder, he missed the last two rungs and turned his ankle.

He knew the honeymoon was over when he limped into the kitchen and his wife took one look and said, “Are those your good pants?”

This was a similar reaction I got when I shared with my bride of 38 years (Jeannie Cook) that Aron Anderson from the All Hazards North Central Region had called asking for help to restock the gas masks and filters for the PPE’s.

“Who is Aron Anderson?” Jeannie asked.

“He is that nice guy who drops off the fire extinguishers for the CERT Classes”, I replied.

“Oh.  What is a PPE?” she asked back.

“A PPE is Personal Protection Equipment.  These bags are for Law Enforcement, Fire Fighters and Emergency Medical Services.  The filters and gas masks are rated for radiological, chemical, biological environments,” I answered.

“How many bags are we ‘packing’ and where are we doing this?”

“I am not sure, Aron said a bunch.  We will be doing this at the NCR warehouse, you know, where we get the fire extinguishers when Aron can’t bring them to Castle Rock and those manikins for the CERT exercises.”

“We are going to get kind of grimy and sweaty aren’t we?


“Don’t wear your good work clothes.”

Aron and I agreed on meeting on October 27 at 6 PM at the North Central Region’s warehouse.  I sent the request for volunteers to all of the O.M.E.G.A. members and with the lure of plenty of pizza and soda, I was able to get the Grahn Family (Melanie, John, Jaden and Trevor), Jeannie Cook, George Bartling, Gary Freeman and Donita Hilfinger.

As we entered the door, Aron informed us that we had about 1500 PPE bags.  From the corner of my eye, I could tell from the look from Jeannie that the honeymoon was over.  Plus I glanced down to my pants to make sure I did not have my good pants on.  I did not want to get into trouble twice that night.

But once we set up our assembly line, we rolled up our sleeves and went to work.  Gary made sure we had a constant supply of face masks and filters.  A team member stuffed a bag with a filter and moved the bag down the line.  Another member would stuff a mask in the bag and move the bag down the line.  Another member would zip up the bag and toss it to the person who would stack the bags on the pallet.

With Trevor offering encouragement from his stroller (this is about as much that a 14 month old could offer) and Jaden would do his part and carry/drag the bags to be stacked.  Not bad for a five year old.

Then the pizzas came!  I must admit, they tasted pretty good.  But we could not extend our break too long and we went back to stuffing the PPE bags.  We discovered that we were running short of the masks, so we stuffed the remainder of the bags with just the filters and placed them in a different location.

All in all, it took us little over two hours to stuff 1500 bags.  And we were glad to give Aron a helping hand.

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