Like many communities across the country, Wake County does not currently have enough personal protective equipment for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
PSB Pro Services in Morrisville is joining Wake County’s effort to give protective masks to first responders and healthcare personnel working on the frontlines of COVID-19.
PSB Pro Services, which normally sharpens skates for hockey and figure skating and makes custom team apparel, will provide the county with thousands of N95 masks to keep employees safe from coronavirus, Wake County officials say.
“This is a great example of the public and private sectors working together to create an innovative solution locally to a national problem,” said Wake County Manager David Ellis. “This kind of partnership and ingenuity is exactly what we need during this health crisis.”
Wake County officials say they looked at all options to get much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE). Staff focused on a stockpile of N95 masks in storage in the county’s emergency services warehouse, but thee masks were several years old, and the elastic bands that hold the masks in place would break whenever employees tried to put them on.
“We knew the masks were in excellent condition and could provide the protection our crews needed, but without functioning bands to hold them in place, they were no good to us,” said Wake County EMS Director/Medical Director Dr. Jose Cabanas. “We couldn’t let this potential opportunity pass without exploring all options to fix the bands.”
Wake County officials say once county staff developed a feasible prototype, they needed to find a partner with the expertise and equipment to operationalize production in mass. By chance, an EMS employee was discussing the situation with a friend who referred him to Andy Scoggins, owner of PSB Pro Services, who offered to try to help.
Scoggins discovered his company could use its industrial sewing machines to sew new elastic bands into the fabric of the masks, creating a strong link that wouldn’t break, Wake County officials say.
“PSB Pro Services, we know the importance of protecting first responders,” said Scoggins. “Ours is a veteran-owned company, and our staff include a retired Raleigh police officer and a retired New York firefighter. We’re proud to collaborate with Wake County on this important effort.”
The company is still closed to the public, but staff is working remotely to fill the county’s orders.
In addition to the work PSB Pro Services is doing, four Wake County residents have volunteered to help with efforts to replace the bands, Wake County officials say.
The group of women reached out to Wake County EMS around the time it was looking for ways to replace the bands and immediately agreed to work out of their homes to update the N95 masks.