While many of our alumni are helping their various organizations through their roles in the employment process, in Champaign, our Hazmat program is also assisting during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Hazmat has created a Resource Sheet, which is available at https://ler.illinois.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-19-Resource-Sheet.pdf.
Recently, the Program inventoried, tagged, and delivered the following equipment to assist first responders and health care providers in Champaign County:
- Half Face Air Purifying Respirators
- Filter Adapters for SCBA Masks to Make Them Into Air Purifying Respirators (SCBA is an air pack or self-contained breathing apparatus that firefighters use)
- N-100 Face Masks
- Tyvek Booties
- Lightweight Tyvek Suits
Director Chris Hanson has advised the Champaign County Emergency Operations Center that that the program also has heavier Tyvek suits for donation as well. They have shared guidance received through associations with the National Institutes for Health (NIH), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the Midwest Consortium for Hazardous Waste Worker Training (MWC). Hazmat’s background in Nuclear, Biological, & Chemical (NBC) warfare have been very useful.
In addition to donating equipment, there is one Hazmat instructor deployed with FEMA and they have been requested by Dr. Pratap at the UIC Center for Public Health to assist with training essential workers. Many instructors are also firefighters and paramedics.
Director Chris Hanson is teleconferencing with NIEHS and NIH to assist in their essential worker training roll-out still. He is requesting supplemental funding from the MWC to assist us in training essential workers in Coronavirus safety.
Unfortunately the program has taken a serious financial hit with a projected income loss because of the national emergency. Hazmat programs can be a great resource in the pandemic, so please reach out to Chris Hanson if you have a training need.
Some employees at the Labor Education Program also report that they are helping in their communities. Alison Dickson, a Labor Ed instructor has been assisting neighbors and friends apply for unemployment benefits and answering their many questions about their rights as workers right now, including whether they have to show up for work if they feel unsafe, the difference between furloughs, layoffs and firings, how unemployment insurance works and what changes are in the pipeline. She and her son are also checking on a number of elderly neighbors and running errands for those who can't get out in public.
Labor Ed Director Bob Bruno is the president of his school board, Glen Ellyn D41. In that role he is helping the district execute the implementation of E-Learning (online) in English and Spanish, check-in calls to families with special challenges, providing weekly supply of meals to all students in need, organizing community donations for families in need, providing 1,000 chrome books to students who do not have a device at home, and putting on webinars dealing with psychological and emotional response to crisis and on trauma care for the community.