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Teaming Up to Help: TSI and 3M Reps Work to Fit Hurricane Harvey Rescue and Clean-up Teams with Respirators


By Jill Berkel, Health & Safety Technical Sales Specialist, TSI Inc.

Jill Berkel of TSI and Barry Sanders of 3M On August 25, Hurricane Harvey hit land and affected about 80% of my sales territory, which starts at Louisiana and extends southward to Corpus Christi. The winds did major damage, but it was really the rainfall and flooding that had the greatest impact on property and homes. Harvey was the most extreme rainfall event in our country's history. In Cedar Bayou, Texas 51.88 inches of rain fell, breaking a 1978 record for rainfall in the continental U.S. 

>See an interactive map of the Harvey impact

Getting the Call to Help

On August 29, I received a call from David Bock. David is the Disaster Response Field Coordinator for the Texas Conservation Corps. The TXCC is part of American Youthworks or AmeriCorps . Their mission is to engage young people in projects on public lands, coastal regions, and disaster areas.

David told me that the TXCC was deploying rescue teams to the Texas Gulf Coast areas. Each rescuer needed a respirator to work safely and each respirator must fit properly. Workers in flooded areas can encounter acid gases, smoke, organic vapors, chemicals, and particulates like mold spores. Mold can be a severe hazard, especially in agricultural areas or confined spaces.

TSI & 3M Outfit Harvey Helpers

I reached out to Barry Sanders, the 3M™ South Texas Respirator and Safety Product Specialist. Most volunteers would be using *3M™ respirators during their mission.

Respirator Fit Testing for Hurricane Harvey worker Barry and I met in Cedar Park, Texas. We provided respirator fit testing to over 140 AmeriCorps workers in two days. We used a TSI PortaCount® Pro Respirator Fit Tester for the fittings and trained the workers on proper respirator use.  

I was inspired by the dozens of volunteers who came from all over the country-Washington State, Vermont, Maryland, Atlanta, Montana and other states. After we fitted them all with secure respirators, they deployed to Beaumont, Brazoria, the Coastal Bend areas, and other hard-hit parts of the region. 

The Hurricane Harvey Recovery and Work Continues

After our respirator fit testing marathon, there was still so much more to do. I reached out to Houston and Corpus Christi Port Authority and emergency services to offer help. I heard from an oil refinery and a tire manufacturing plant. Both sites needed new PortaCount fit testers because their units were stored in areas that are still under water.

Back at TSI's home base in Minnesota, our teams are expediting PortaCount fit tester replacements and rush-processing trade-ins. They are committed to ensuring new equipment gets to everyone who will be working in the dangerous conditions caused by the flooding. Personally, I'm glad I can be of service to rescuers, EMS teams, First Responders, volunteers, and other workers as the long recovery goes on. If you're a customer who needs equipment help in disaster-affected area, please contact TSI .

*3M is a trademark of 3M.

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