University donates protective gear to fire department


Courtesy Wade Duerkes

Sherrill Morris, NIU Chair of the School of Allied Health and Communications, delivers personal protective equipment to the DeKalb Fire Department.

By Quentin Wilson

DeKALB — In an effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, NIU’s College of Health and Human Sciences donated boxes of personal protective equipment to the DeKalb Fire Department on Monday to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s a huge relief for us,” Bart Gilmore, deputy chief of the DeKalb Fire Department, said. “It’s nice that our communities can work together.”

First responders are taking extra precautions; entire crews will wear protective gear when responding to calls — even those not related to COVID-19. The fire department has used protective gear such as gloves and masks more than it usually would, according to a university news release.

“We are facing an increased burn rate on PPEs ,so we are stocking up as much as we can,” Gilmore said. “We don’t want to come up short, as these products are back-ordered for months.”

The college donated exam gloves, isolation gowns, safety goggles, surgical masks and N95 masks, according to the release.

Sherrill Morris, chair of NIU’s School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders, coordinated the donation effort of protective gear. Morris collected a half dozen boxes of masks, three boxes of safety goggles, over 50 gowns and over 100 boxes of gloves. She included material’s from NIU’s Child Development and Family Center, the medical laboratory sciences program, the School of Nursing, the NIU Physical Therapy Clinic and the Speech-Language Hearing Clinic.

“It is essential that our first responders have personal protective equipment, and I’m glad I could be involved in the transfer of these necessary supplies,” Morris said.

If anyone has items to donate to the DeKalb Fire Department, Gilmore can be contacted at 815-748-8466. During this time, the fire department will not take cloth masks.

The university has also opened Neptune Residence Hall North to first responders amid the pandemic. NIU is offering rooms in the hall to Northwestern Medicine employees and DeKalb County police, fire and EMT personnel.