Rescue squad is ready

VALATIE—The Valatie Rescue Squad has been taking measures to be prepared to meet the challenge of assisting the Columbia County community during the COVID-19 emergency.

“This is a serious situation, but we are preparing ourselves for whatever happens,” Valatie Rescue Squad Operations Director Anand Balasar said in a recent press release.

He observed that the generosity of local businesses and other local first responders “has been fantastic” as the squad has been diligently working to stock up with as many of the protective items they may need to protect themselves and the public.

VRS has been receiving lots of donations, particularly of items related to personal-protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, masks, and gowns, Mr. Balasar said in the release.

Among those donating personal-protective equipment are Columbia Dental Associates and the Greenport Police Department, who recently delivered masks and gloves. Also, Kinderhook’s own Broad Street Bagel did their part some days ago by donating food.

In a message to the community, Mr. Balasar said the squad would like to reassure the public that VRS is in constant contact with the Columbia County Health Department and New York State to make sure that they’re up-to-date on the latest information and directives. He emphasized that individuals calling in to the dispatcher for assistance should expect the standard procedures followed during any emergency 911 call. Callers should expect additional screening questions related to COVID-19 when speaking with the dispatcher. He explained, this information will aid the squad in their ability to be fully and appropriately prepared when going out to assist those in need.

“VRS would like to encourage everyone to continue to practice all those things which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is recommending: social distancing, hand washing, etc. We’d like to point out that the CDC has said clearly that there is absolutely no benefit from a surgical mask on a healthy person. As short as the supply is for EMS and other medical professionals, these should be reserved specifically for them,” VRS Executive Director Scott Bowman said in the release. It’s vital to get the message out that individuals should not be buying surgical masks for personal use. He requested that “if you have them, please donate them to an organization that can use them as directed.”

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