24,000 N95 Particulate Respirators Distributed to Public at Height of Fire

With the Jesusita Fire expected to be fully contained May 20, Direct Relief has resumed normal-operation footing while continuing to assist as needed with local follow-up efforts.

During the weeklong fire emergency, which caused mass evacuations, threatened highly populated areas of Santa Barbara, and burned over 8,700 acres and 99 structures, Direct Relief—

• Maintained round-the-clock staffing and coordination with local public health officials and emergency operations center personnel.

• Provided local residents, emergency personnel, and evacuees in shelters more than 24,000 N95 particulate respirators to protect against wildfire smoke inhalation. Three separate distribution efforts were coordinated at multiple sites with public health officials and the Medical Reserve Corps, which was activated for the first time in response to an emergency situation.

• Deployed staff, volunteers, equipment, and supplies for rapid set-up of an alternate care shelter at UCSB’s “Thunderdome” on Thursday, May 9, to receive up to 100 medically vulnerable people who were housed during massive evacuations. Staff worked through the night to deliver supplies and establish the shelter.

• Completed, on Friday, May 10, a nearly two-year, $500,000 project to install a 250-kilowatt generator to ensure the organization can function independent of the power grid in an emergency situation. This project was generously underwritten by the Orfalea Fund. The clean-burning, diesel-powered generator can supply Direct Relief’s facilities with power for up to six days without fuel resupply (and indefinitely with resupply).

The generator project is the most recent in a series of infrastructure and capacity-building initiatives. Direct Relief was also recently named the first and only nonprofit organization in the United States to be accredited as a Verified Accredited Wholesale Distributor (VAWD) by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Learn more about VAWD.

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