CORAL SPRINGS, FL – Coral Springs police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and other employees have enough personal protective equipment, known as “PPE,” to get through the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The City of Coral Springs has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy specialized masks, suits, overalls, and other materials for employees to minimize their exposure to hazards in the community. Some supplies also went to residents of assisted living facilities in Coral Springs.
In all, officials spent nearly $400,000 since late February on supplies, services, equipment and food related to keeping city employees safe and in communication with each other and the community, according to a report released this week.
As cities, hospitals, and other institutions throughout the nation struggled to get enough PPE for their first responders, Coral Springs officials said they rushed to purchase supplies in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, getting ahead of other governments and organizations competing for the same products. City purchasing officials often relied on years-old connections with local and national companies that supplied the materials.
“We leveraged our relationships and it provided us access to the needed supplies,” said Melissa Heller, deputy city manager.
Using emergency procurement orders, officials spent what they felt were reasonable prices to get life-saving equipment, including much-demanded KN95 masks, for police, fire, and other personnel on the front lines of the pandemic. In some cases, they paid for tens of thousands of masks, only to have their purchases turned down days or weeks later because the suppliers ran out.
Here are some purchases:
- $133,000 for 19,000 KN95 masks for the fire department from Eight 32 Group.
- $50,000 for 25,000 surgical masks for the fire department from United Medco.
- $13,000 for 1,000 hand sanitizers (15.2 ounce) from Hollywood Janitorial Supply
These purchases went through, but it’s not clear if these items have been received yet or if they were canceled.
Nevertheless, Heller said the city has enough supplies now to keep employees safe for weeks and even months.
In an email message, city officials added: “The city started acquiring personal protective equipment early on in the event. At this time, the city is confident that we have enough personal protective equipment for our personnel for the anticipated duration of this event.”
Other coronavirus-related spending included:
- $1,205 on equipment for Facebook Live sessions and remote commission meetings.
- $2,026 on webcam, audio conferencing and Zoom meetings.
- $1,800 on “playground closed” banners.
City officials are expecting to submit all the emergency spending to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement.