This article was originally published in the Medina Gazette
A local manufacturer is hoping to put new products in the marketplace to help health care workers on the front lines of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Fire-Dex, whose world headquarters are located at 780 S. Progress Drive in Medina, has quickly developed a product that can help with the shortage of medical gowns and chemical-resistant coveralls that are worn by health care workers and first responders.
“We are in the process of validating and testing designs to ensure they provide the level of protection required by the Centers for Disease Control and other industry-specific standards and hope to have these available as soon as possible,” Fire-Dex marketing manager Jenny Surovey said.
Core products manufactured by Fire-Dex are turnout gear, boots and gloves for structural firefighting, as well as additional product lines designed for technical rescue, EMS and wildland firefighting operations. All of its products are UL certified to National Fire Protection Association standards.
“The current pandemic has created a shortfall in the supply of many disposable types of PPE (personal protective equipment), such as full face respirators and isolation gowns that provide basic levels of protection to health care workers and first responders across the country,” Surovey said.
“The shortage is driven by a combination of factors. A significant portion of the disposable PPE supply comes from China. As the COVID-19 outbreak spread throughout China in January, the demand for these products spiked. At the same time, many factories in China shut down because of infections in the workforce or due to government requirements. As this virus spread, the demand increased globally not only due to health care purchases, but individuals began to buy up these items as well.
“That domino effect has put us in the situation we are in today. There has been a significant increase in domestic production of these products and we fully expect the supply to catch up with demand. It’s just a question of how quickly that will occur.”
Surovey said changes could be forthcoming as far as the PPE supply chain is concerned for hospitals and first responders.
“COVID-19 is going to change many aspects of our lives and society as a whole but specifically as it relates to the PPE supply chain,” she said. “I expect to see changes in the preparation and response planning that will impact many aspects of the PPE supply chain.
“We will see agencies evaluate their emergency response caches making changes to the stocking levels as well as the products used. We will likely see innovative products emerge from this that will become the standard in the future. We will likely see federal, state and local governments look more closely at the source of the products as well versus the lower-cost alternatives. It’s times like this that allow creativity, technology and innovation to make step changes and we are excited to take the challenge head-on.”
Fire-Dex is working closely with the Fire Equipment Manufacturers Association, and the federal government to understand how it can most efficiently utilize its equipment and capabilities to support the needs of health care and emergency response organizations across the country.
“We must ensure our firefighters and first responders have access to the PPE needed to respond to a full range of emergencies, not just the COVID-19 calls,” Surovey said. “However, we are also looking at ways we can utilize any excess capacity to provide relief for the areas that have shortages.”
Fire-Dex is not the only Ohio company stepping up to innovate as a means of combating the virus.
Battelle, a company based in Columbus, has technology that can be used to decontaminate the coveted N95 masks.
Lewis Von Thaer, president and CEO of Battelle, said the process uses concentrated hydroperoxide vapor and takes several hours but can decontaminate as many as 80,000 masks in a day.
A single mask can be cleaned with this process 20 times without harming the integrity, he added. They will keep track of each mask put through this process and will throw out any that are damaged or have been through the process 20 times.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Battelle for full rollout of its system.
See the original article here.