Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School recently did its part to help ease the local shortage of equipment that health care workers and public safety employees need to protect themselves from exposure to the novel coronavirus.
The school, located in Lexington, donated more than 300 packages of various personal protective equipment to the Lexington and Lincoln police and fire departments and Emerson Hospital in Concord to assist in responding to the pandemic.
Minuteman joined several other vocational-technical high schools across Massachusetts that have donated items such as face and respirator masks, hospital gowns, gloves, eyewear, and hand sanitizer amid a global shortage during the public health crisis.
Like other vocational-technical schools, Minuteman provides personal protective equipment to students and teachers in programs such as biotechnology, environmental science, health assisting, culinary arts, cosmetology, automotive technology, electrical, carpentry, and early education.
The school’s donated packages also included materials from Minuteman’s nurse’s office, science classrooms, and administrative offices.
Minuteman is closed through April 7 following Governor Charles Baker’s statewide order that closed all public schools through that date. Students are participating in online learning during this time.
“The police, fire, and medical workers in our communities are putting their health at risk every day to care for us during this unprecedented emergency,” Edward A. Bouquillon, superintendent-director for Minuteman, said in a statement. “At Minuteman High School, many of our students are the next generation of nurses and EMTs. Helping one another through any sort of crisis is part of who we are.”
In a Facebook post, the Lexington Police Department wrote, “Huge thank you to Minuteman Tech High School for the donation of much needed gloves and masks to us and Lincoln Police. More and more of these items are getting hard to come by.”
The Lincoln Police Department wrote on Facebook: “Thank you so much to Minuteman … who donated personal protective equipment to Lincoln & Lexington police and firefighters. We’re certainly receiving this in a time of need as such equipment is on back order.”
Michelle Roche, Minuteman’s career technical education director, organized the donations of the equipment. By design, only a small number of staff participated in collecting the materials in order to practice social distancing.
Joining Roche were Brian Tildsley, the school’s assistant principal; Richard Ikonen, its facilities director; Al St. George, an electrical instructor; Cynthia DeMaio, a cosmetology instructor; Terence Regan, an environmental science instructor; and Dan O’Brien, Minuteman’s communications director.
Bouquillon in an interview said that in the several days Minuteman was preparing to distribute its supplies, he heard from three other hospitals asking if the school could provide them with similar equipment.
“We were not able to accommodate them. I’m saddened by that, which is a real indicator of the issue. And I think it needs to be addressed,” Bouquillon said of the shortage of protective materials.
“There’s a lot of effort from the vocational-technical school community because we have got the resources, we’ve got the equipment, and people are getting pretty creative in how we are trying to support our frontline workers.”
John Laidler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.