WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Usually, the folks at Thermaxx in West Haven are making insulating jackets for pipes and valves. But these are unusual times.
Thermaxx Vice President Thomas Salagaj told News 8, “Our owner, Brian Bannon received a phone call from a fire chief that we have done work with and he was told that they’re running out of PPE, especially gowns, and he knew that we had sewing machines here, and he asked is there anything that you can do to help us out.”
The answer was yes. By using their existing cutting and sewing machines, they figured out a way to make protective gowns out of rolls of Tyvek. They’re now finishing about 400 a day. First responders and health care workers have come and picked up 5,000 of them so far. And the price is right.
“We decided to donate all of these gowns that we are making, so we are not receiving any money for any of these gowns,” Salagaj said.
Thermaxx had one issue, though. Some of these first responders were driving an hour or more out of their way to come get these gowns. Then there was a piece on the news about what Thermaxx was doing and Fran Mayko, the spokesperson for AAA Northeast, happened to come across it.
“We have a fleet that is considered essential during this pandemic. It is easy for us to simply help out,” Mayko said.
So now, several times a week, the AAA loads up one of its service vehicles with gowns and takes them right to the people who need them the most. Thursday’s route included the Orange Fire Department, which is running low and finding it hard to afford more.
Orange Fire Dept. Chief Vaughan Dumas said, “You know, we planned on enough for the year, which is an average, but when you have a national pandemic like this, and you’re using up the equipment at a much faster pace, your budget gets depleted, and the resources get depleted as well.”
Back at Thermaxx, they now have a board of hope full of patches and thank you letters from departments and agencies all over the state. Many of the Thermaxx employees who would have otherwise been furloughed are now happy to be helping.
“I think everyone is very proud about being able to contribute to the cause,” Salagaj said.
And workers on the front lines of fighting the virus are happy for the help.