In the first World War, Scouts helped collect black walnut wood needed to make airplane propellers.

In World War II, they scoured attics, basements and garages for “rubber, small iron and steel scrap, light metals and other materials needed for the war effort,” according to the July 1942 issue of Scouting magazine.

And now, in 2020, it’s time for Scouts to help fight a different kind of war.

Medical officials are calling on Americans to collect new or unused face masks, eye protection, gowns, gloves and other potentially lifesaving equipment for workers on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus. And Scouts can help in this effort.

“Almost every hospital has extreme shortages,” says Dr. Stef Simmons, an emergency medicine physician living in Ann Arbor, Mich. “We are working diligently on procurement and innovation, and some businesses are retooling to produce supplies, but it would be immensely helpful to mobilize any community supplies to the hospital.”

What is needed

When trying to determine the need in your community, “Scouts looking to make and provide personal protective equipment should contact local hospitals and whoever runs their local EMS. So, for a lot of areas, that would be the local fire department.” says Peter C. Perez, an Eagle Scout and the Emergency Management Coordinator for the city of Killeen, Texas.

“I would ask Scouts to get a hold of their local emergency managers and see what needs are out there,” he says. “Emergency managers can also connect them with local area groups who may have supplies and funds but just need the people power.”

Needs will vary by community, but many facilities are asking for the following:

New or unused:

  • Disposable face masks
  • N95 masks, sometimes called respirators
  • Eye protection including face shields and safety goggles
  • Disposable gowns
  • Disposable gloves, especially non-latex
  • Disposable surgical caps
  • Disposable foot covers
  • Wipes: bleach or antimicrobial
  • Hand sanitizer

What might be needed

Hospitals in some areas are accepting home-sewn reusable masks and 3-D printed ventilator parts. In other places, these supplies aren’t needed.

Again, this could change and will vary by location.

What isn’t needed at this time

Most hospitals do not need the following at this time (though that could change):

  • Medications
  • Food
  • Blankets
  • Medical equipment

How to donate

Before you call your local hospital, which may be overwhelmed with calls right now, please check their website, Facebook page or Twitter account to see if they’ve already shared information on donating.

You can also check your local media outlets to check if they’ve covered this story.

I would recommend calling your hospital only as a final step. If you do decide to call, please appoint one person from your unit to make that call so that multiple families don’t call the same facility.

Positive stories emerging

We’re already hearing about Scouts and Scouting officials donating supplies to the fight.

Leaders at the Connecticut Rivers Council, for example, donated the council’s entire supply of masks and gowns from camp health lodges.

“As I write this, all our camps have offered our supplies, and all our supplies have found new homes,” says Scout Executive Steven Smith.

Has your pack, troop, crew or ship joined the cause? Leave a comment below.

A note about blood donations

As we shared in our post about service projects Scouts can complete from home, there is a severe blood shortage as a result of blood drives being canceled.

Healthy donors are asked to visit the American Red Cross site to learn more.

From Scouting magazine’s July 1942 issue.

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