DUBOIS — David McAllister has made it his mission to ensure Emergency Medical Services around the area are properly equipped with properly fitted N95 masks during the pandemic.
“I’m sure people don’t realize they (EMS agencies) are experiencing a shortage as well. All we hear about are the hospitals, but EMS need to be protected as well,” McAllister said.
McAllister is the owner of Direct Workforce Care, a business that provides mobile and onsite occupational health services. While this company can aid any workers in the healthcare system, McAllister took a special focus on EMS agencies from personal experience.
“We, and I say we because I have been in EMS for 20 years of my life, are always thought of after the fact,” he said.
Through Direct Workforce Care, he is educating agencies on the proper use, how to appropriately put masks on, and proper storage when they are not being used. He is also showing them how to make sure there is a proper seal, and said that everyone should be fit tested for a proper seal on their mask.
Fit testing checks the seal between the respirator’s face peice and the wearer’s face. This is different from a seal check that is done when a mask is put on to make sure it is seated properly.
“I think that people need to know that just because you are wearing a mask doesn’t always mean you are protected. A tight fitting mask is just that, ‘tight fitting’ if your respirator does not fit your face properly…” McAllister said.
McAllister has been taking his mobile service to EMS agencies to fit test the workers for N95 masks. He has fit tested Dusan Ambulance, DuBois EMS, Elk County EMS, Brockway Ambulance, Moshannon Valley, Altoona Mobile Emergency Department Authority, Duncansville, Mountain Top Fire Company, and Houtzdale-Ramey Ambulance.
“Our company is set up to keep agencies compliant under the OSHA standard 1910.134 and are able to offer both quantitative and qualitative testing,” McAllister said.
These are the two methods of fit tests for the N95 masks. Qualitative often is a pass/fail test using taste/smell or an irritant for the test subject to detect leaks. The quantitative test uses a machine to measure the actual amount of leakage into the face piece.
McAllister had made a call out on Facebook for people to donate masks and PPE to EMS agencies, but said he hadn’t heard of many donations being made. Most companies donate to hospitals, forgetting about police, fire and EMS.
For donations or help, EMS Direct Workforce Care can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 814-771-7174.