A-B Tech Works to Protect First Responders

A-B Tech EMS Chair Anthony Green tests the fit of protective face masks for local first responders.
A-B Tech EMS Chair Anthony Green tests the fit of protective face masks for local first responders.

As A-B Tech strives to focus on the “community” aspect of its mission during the coronavirus pandemic, members of the college’s Emergency Services division are helping protect area first responders from exposure by donating Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other supplies, providing certified face mask fittings, and creating critical training videos.

Emergency Services Dean Clint Gorman is A-B Tech’s representative to Buncombe County and North Carolina Emergency Management during the pandemic. Gorman was part of the first epidemic management team in Buncombe County years ago when he served as the county’s EMS training officer and has played an active role in Buncombe County and state disaster management for decades.

PPE is critical to protect first responders during a pandemic, Gorman said. For instance, during calls they must wear a mask that seals to the face. These masks have to be fit-tested and properly fitted by certified personnel.

“Anthony Green (EMS Chair) is certified and he does it for our EMS students,” Gorman said. “When it became apparent that county and city Fire Departments needed to fit-test a lot of firefighters, Anthony, Rick Patton, and Greg Gore were deployed to help. They have fit-tested over 300 people since last Thursday and are still doing it.”

Gorman and his staff are developing a training video for Buncombe County on when PPE is required. “It can be a gown, N95 mask, surgical mask, gloves, or eye mask, depending on the level of the situation. It’s very important not to waste equipment and know exactly what needs to be worn in any given situation,” Gorman said.

A-B Tech EMS Instructors Darin Jackson, Brian Newsome, and Matt Reese also produced a video about COVID-19 Infection Control for first responders to help train personnel in our area and elsewhere in the state. Posted on YouTube, the video has been viewed almost 1,300 times in less than a week.

Gorman has delivered supplies donated by various A-B Tech programs every day this week to Buncombe County Emergency Management and Madison County Emergency Management, including:

  • 600 gowns, more than 200 masks and N95 masks from EMS to Buncombe County Emergency Management, and 100 gowns and 100 surgical masks to Madison County Emergency Management
  • 20,000 gloves, 150 gowns, and 300 surgical masks donated by the Nursing Assistant program
  • 200 masks, 50+ containers of hand sanitizer, and wipes from the Cosmetology and computer labs
  • More than 100 disposable coveralls from the Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast

“We would usually run through all of these supplies quickly, but the restrictions on face-to-face classes means we aren’t using them right now and there is need greater for responders,” Gorman said. “Our folks have really stepped up to help.”

Gorman said the county will reimburse all of A-B Tech’s donated supplies once it receives disaster relief funds.

About A-B Tech Community College

Founded in 1959 in the heart of Asheville, A-B Tech is the largest higher education institution in Western North Carolina, serving more than 23,000 students a year in Buncombe and Madison counties. One of 58 community colleges in the NC Community College System, A-B Tech offers more than 120 degrees, diplomas and certificates, as well as a wide range of workforce training and continuing education programs.

Now celebrating its 60th year, A-B Tech includes the main Asheville campus, A-B Tech Enka (home of the A-B Tech Small Business Center and Business Incubation Program, Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast and N.C. BioNetwork), A-B Tech Madison, A-B Tech South, and A-B Tech Woodfin.

Learn more at abtech.edu.

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