DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — After local communities became overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and states couldn’t handle everything on their own, the federal government stepped in for support to help with testing needs and critical supplies.
“Swabs, reagent, the supplies that they need to safely assess when they can reopen, that is where FEMA is focused right now for the next several months. And we’re still not taking our foot off the gas,” says FEMA Region 5 Administrator, James Joseph.
From N95 masks, to gloves, to surgical gowns, FEMA has worked to get personal protective equipment in the hands of those on the frontlines nationally and in the state of Ohio. Some supplies normally take more than a month to get to the U.S. by ship. FEMA has expedited the process with Project Air Bridge, flying in supplies in a matter of a few days for medical distributors.
“What everyone needs to realize is this was an unprecedented event. Never before has any state ever dealt with an emergency or disaster in the entirety of their state,” states Joseph.
While responding to a pandemic is different than a natural disaster, the overall communication and mission to provide relief is the same.
“The relationships, the process, the procurement, the resource request process, that all remains the same throughout many of the disasters,” says Joseph. “So all of the exercises that have been done in conjunction with the state of Ohio, and communities throughout Ohio, all of the past events that we’ve worked on, it only strengthens our ability to work together, understand what Ohio’s capabilities–which are very high–are, and understand what gaps we need to fill here from the federal government.”
The president declared the coronavirus a national emergency disaster March 13. FEMA has been involved ever since and will continue to be for the long haul.
“FEMA has been working tirelessly around the clock and the men and women of FEMA have been working 12, 15, 16 hour days, 7 days a week,” describes Joseph. “I want America to know the hidden hero in all this are the federal government employees.”
FEMA says it also has to be prepared if a natural disaster happens during the same time. If it does, it says there’s already a team in place to handle the response.
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