April 10, 2020 9:20PM • By ABC7
The Los Angeles office of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency is donating thousands of masks to local medical workers.
The office has donated 3,000 masks to LA County Public Health and another 3,000 to hospital workers at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
“We realize what it’s like to be on the front lines of a battle. And we have a lot of empathy now for the people who are out there now on the front lines,” said Bill Bodner, the special agent in charge of the DEA’s LA field office. “Right now, it’s not DEA or sworn law enforcement officers. It’s EMS people. It’s nurses and doctors in hospitals. It’s the cleaning staff in hospitals,”
The DEA isn’t just donating masks, but also plans to provide Southern California hospitals with gloves and protective gear.
“We live in Southern California. We’re always cognizant of the threat of earthquake, wildfire, and unfortunately a mass casualty event so we began several years ago to build up a supply of masks and other types of medical products,” said Bodner.
“The demand has been crazy. We’re getting calls from the federal government, state government, local government, private sector, nursing homes, hospitals, assisted livings. The phone’s been ringing,” said Alex Berenson, the CEO of Domestic Medical Supply Coalition.
Berenson is helping coordinate the public-private partnership between DMS Coalition, Los Angeles Apparel, and the DEA. Los Angeles Apparel has also been making cloth masks to keep people safe during the pandemic.
“It’s a terrible crisis that we’re all experiencing, but we’re banding together and we’re helping to save lives. This is a humanitarian effort. This is all about getting to our heroes on the front lines and also taking care of population at large,” said Berenson.
The DEA says they don’t have enough surplus supplies to solve the shortage of personal protective equipment hospitals are facing, but says if they can give just one doctor enough protection needed to save a life, It makes it all worth it.
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