One cuff at a time is how Cathy Ellis is helping to keep Marble Falls Area EMS paramedics and EMTs safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
She and three other volunteers gathered June 19 at Marble Falls Area EMS headquarters, where they cut, stitched, sewed, and ironed about six dozen reusable hospital gowns for ambulance crews.
“We’re doing this so, if there is a shortage again, they are going to be able to have this reusable (gown) so they can wear it, bring it in, wash it, sterilize it, and use it again,” organizer Cindy Robertson said.
Jeanette Tennison and Carol Hamilton also lent their sewing skills to the cause.
In April, the four women helped make 60 face shields for EMS crews. Each of them have direct ties to EMS through spouses and children, so they know the dangers and challenges first responders face on a daily basis.
When COVID-19 was first reported in Texas in March and made its way to the Highland Lakes, local first responders struggled to find personal protective equipment such as N95 masks, face shields, and other gear. The volunteers gathered supplies, including donations from local businesses, to make the face shields that EMTs and paramedics wear over their N95 masks, offering another layer of protection.
The hospital gowns work in a similar fashion. When paramedics and EMTs respond to a call, they can don the gowns, which tie behind their backs.
Hamilton said the gowns have a few pockets for equipment as well as one that can hold an ice pack to keep first responders cool in the summer heat.
The four women started making the gowns at about 9 a.m. June 19.
“We have figured out a system,” said Robertson, referring to how they can make 72 gowns with complicated stitching and sewing in one day.
The biggest challenge is purchasing supplies to make more gowns in the future. The fabric costs about $3.99 a yard, so it adds up.
Anyone interested in making gowns or a donation toward their costs can contact the Marble Falls Area EMS at 830-693-7277.