Winnipeg business drawing new customers for masks

By | May 7, 2020

WINNIPEG — A fire and safety equipment company is seeing a boost in business, but not from the usual customers.

ABC Fire and Safety Equipment, which typically serves fire departments and clients in the industrial sector, said in recent weeks, they’ve been outfitting dentists and doctors with personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We’ve been going seven days strong, 18 hour days, just to get the fit testing for these masks,” said David Jeanson, president of the company.

Dentists, which were previously only allowed to perform emergency services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are allowed to reintroduce more services as part of the province’s first reopening phase.

In a statement, the Manitoba Dental Association said it’s facing a shortage of PPE, part of the general shortage across the country.

“The challenge that we have, much like any other health care providers, we are only seeing a limited easing of supply lines on PPE at this point,” Marc Mollot, president of the association, said.

Masks, face shields, and gowns are the items most needed for dentists.

Mollot said many dentists were “very generous” with their existing stocks and donated PPE to other health care workers when the pandemic hit. He added local manufacturers have helped provide PPE to dentists and other medical professionals dealing with shortages.

Jeanson said the most popular item right now is the MSA Advantage 200 LS mask. The mask has filters that can be washed between patients. Jeanson said the mask will last longer than an N-95 respirator, which has to be replaced after each use.

“They can last up to six months,” he said, noting environment plays a factor in the lifespan.

Before the pandemic, Jeanson said his business sold about 150 masks per month.

“Now we’re going through 500, 600 a week,” he said, adding other front line workers, including doctors and ambulance drivers, are purchasing the masks due to N-95 shortages.

Mollot said the association is currently working with Shared Health and the provincial government to help access more PPE through procurement systems.

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