PITTSFIELD — With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to drag on, the Pittsfield Police Department was down to about 50 surgical masks as of Tuesday morning.
Then came a visit from Lenco Armored Vehicles, a Pittsfield company that showed up at the department headquarters armed with a truckload of personal protective equipment — from N95 masks to hand sanitizer.
"They couldn't have come at a better time," said Pittsfield Police Capt. Matthew Kirchner. "We would have had to try and be creative and come up with a solution" to replenish the department's surgical mask supply, he said, "or reach out to our counterparts and see if we can get enough to get by."
As the pandemic has raged across the world, caregivers and first responders on the front lines of the outbreak have struggled to keep PPE necessary for their own safety.
The Pittsfield-based armored vehicle manufacturer collected a variety of equipment from its many vendors to donate to public safety departments in Pittsfield, Dalton, Lanesborough and Richmond, along with two private ambulance companies.
The Pittsfield fire and police departments received their gear in the morning, while the other deliveries were made in the afternoon, according to Mike DiCicco, Lenco's supply chain manager.
In Pittsfield, Lenco provided disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves of all sizes, goggles, face shields, noncontact thermometers, N95 masks and surgical masks to the police and fire departments, according to Kristin Light, the company's general manager.
"We have been following the news and, obviously, seeing all the media reports that first responders were having trouble finding PPE," Light said. "So, we decided to try and reach out to our vendors and online sources and buy as much as we could to donate."
Lenco, founded in 1981, makes tactical armored security vehicles for law enforcement, fire rescue and defense forces around the world at its plant in the Betnr Industrial Park off West Housatonic Street. Lenco owns the the popular Bear and BearCat brands.
"We really felt, as a member of the community, that we needed to step in and do whatever we could for first responders," Light said.
Lenco has spent $300,000 on purchasing these supplies for first responders so far, according to Light. And the amount of equipment given to Pittsfield's police and fire departments Tuesday was substantial.
"They had a truck filled with stuff from the floor to the ceiling," said Deputy Fire Chief Neil Myers. "As you can imagine, that's a lot."
Myers said Lenco had reached out to the Fire Department about a month ago about the possibility of donating needed supplies.
"I'm friends with one of their salesmen, and he reached out to me and said, 'What do you guys need?' '' Myers said. "He said, 'We have supply chain government contracts and can get things that not everybody could get.'
"Our biggest deficit was in cleaning supplies," Myers said. "We couldn't find them anywhere. ... They brought a large, large order of disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, N95 masks, safety glasses and goggles and infrared thermometers."
Lenco also provided the Fire Department with adapters that firefighters can use to screw a plastic filter into the masks that they use when fighting fires.
"It's going to protect our guys better when they go on calls," Myers said. "We've been running out of supplies. ...We wear masks on every call we go on. ... We've gone through a lot of masks."
The Fire Department also has been receiving supplies from other agencies.
"We're in better shape than we were a month ago, when all this started, but we're nowhere out of the water yet," Myers said.
Lenco is planning to donate even more equipment.
"We've got other stuff coming," DiCicco said.
Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at email@example.com or 413-281-2755.